Nikolai is not returning, has taken job in Qatar: sources

Ajay Maken yesterday said that the Sports Ministry has approved a monthly pay package of USD 6,000 for Nikolai till 2012 London Olympics and USD 2,000 for his wife Anzhelika, who is a qualified masseur, to work with the Athletics Federation of India. But top AFI sources told PTI today that Nikolai will not return to India as he has taken up a job in Qatar for a much higher salary.

"It's a close chapter for Nikolai's association with India at least till the London Olympics. Nikolai has taken up a coaching job in Qatar till the London Olympics," a top AFI source said.

"He has sent us a mail that he won't be able to come back to India for the London Olympics preparations. He said he may consider coming back later. So, may be he can return to India after London Olympics but that too if he gets what he wants," the source added.

Nikolai has left India after the sports ministry refused to agree to the salary hike he demanded if his contract was to be renewed to be part of the athletics coaching staff to prepare for the London Olympics.

He had demanded USD 8,000 per month instead of the USD 5,000 he was getting and his wife being employed by SAI at USD 2,000 per month. SAI, on the other hand, was not ready to give more than USD 6,000 per month, a hike of USD 1,000, besides offering USD 2,000 for his wife to which the coach refused.

Nikolai had left for home in December last after his wards produced splendid performances in the Asian Games in November last year. Under Nikolai, the performance of long distance runners like Preeja Sreedharan, Kavita Raut and Sudha Singh improved in the last few years.

Preeja won a gold in 10,000m and silver in 5,000m in the Asian Games while Sudha bagged the yellow metal in 3,000m steeplechase. Kavita had won a bronze and a silver in 10,000m in the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.

All the three athletes had pleaded with the authorities to retain the services of Nikolai but to no avail.

"What can I say? It will be a huge loss for me. Personally for me, he has had a major role in my improvement and achievements in the last few months. I heard about the issue of pay hike with the SAI and I thought he would stay with us," Kavita had said.

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