Buoyed by the historic gold by Neeraj Chopra in javelin throw in Tokyo Olympics, Adille Sumariwalla, president of Athletics Federation of India (AFI), said it is the right time to popularise the sport in the country. “Neeraj (Chopra) has removed that block from our mind that we can’t win a medal in the Olympics. He has changed the mindset of the people and has a huge following after his gold in the Tokyo Olympics. This is a fantastic moment for us to popularise athletics in the country. People never realised the importance of athletics. But athletics is the basis of all sports.
Without jumping or throwing, you cannot play any sport,’’ Sumariwalla said while talking to N Jagannath Das.
On hosting Nationals in smaller places
As secretary of Maharashtra Athletics Association, I hosted the meets in districts of the State though there were few facilities. It creates an eco-support system while holding these meets in interior places. If there is no track, hold one or two events or hold cross country.
On Warangal as venue for National Open
Warangal is a great place to hold the nationals. They have done it nicely in the past and I’m very sure this national meet will be a big hit. Warangal will be the trend-setter as it is the first meet after the Olympics and it is being held at district headquarters.
On absence of big stars
For one and half years the big athletes had been training for the Tokyo Olympics. So it is time for recovery as next year is a very hectic one as we have Asian Games, World Indoor, Commonwealth Games, World Championship. So, if they don’t recover, they will not have enough preparation and there could be a possibility of a burn out. But at the same time, it will give young athletes a chance to showcase their talent in this meet.
On Neeraj Chopra’s feat
It was my ambition to win a medal and it got fulfilled through Neeraj Chopra. I participated in the 100m in the 1980 Moscow Olympics. We had to know the right things to make it happen in big events like the Olympics.
On athletics’ future in the country
Nobody believed us when we said we would win a medal in the Tokyo Olympics, of course we never said we would win a gold. But things happened the way we wanted it. We could have won three more medals or so. Our juniors excelled in Under-20 Worlds. It took 17 years to get to the process. Dutee Chand, Neeraj, Hima Das, Annu Rani and others came out of our junior programme. We need to have patience and once it starts rolling there is no looking back.
On revamping coaches
We do reevaluation of all coaches. We paid them a lot of money, $10,000 per month. It is our and the Government’s money. We need results.
On SAI support
Sports Authority of India (SAI) is a great support to our federation. They are helping with coaches, programmes to send abroad. We are working as a team.
Now you can get handpicked stories from Telangana Today on Telegram everyday. Click the link to subscribe.