Karnataka athletes leave for Ranchi

Weeklong drama ends as DYES slackens its stance

Karnataka athletes leave for Ranchi

Ending a week-long drama, Karnataka athletes finally left for Ranchi on Wednesday for the Open National athletics championships after a solution was found to the problem that threatened to derail their participation.

Karnataka’s presence at the Nationals was in doubt after the Deparment of Youth Empowerment and Sports (DYES) selected the team and forwarded the entries to the Athletics Federation of India (AFI). The DYES contended that the Karnataka Athletics Association had been dissolved and had no right to pick the team.

The AFI, however, said it would accept only entries from the State association, leaving the nine selected athletes on tenterhooks. The parent body also pointed out that the entries were submitted well past the deadline of August 22.

On Tuesday night, the AFI wrote to the DYES stating its willingness to relax the deadline if the entries were routed through KAA. The DYES then took a step back from its stand, and after talks with KAA secretary Satyanarayana on Wednesday morning, the entries of the athletes selected by the DYES were sent to AFI through KAA. “We told them that in the interest of the athletes, we were willing to relax the deadline if the entries were routed through KAA,” said AFI secretary C K Valson. “We were of the view that the athletes should not suffer for no fault of theirs,” he said. Six of the nine athletes -- sprinters G N Bopanna, Arun Kumar, high jumper Chetan, 800M runners Uma Bhagyalakshmi, Mahalakshmi and 400M hurdler M Arpitha -- left for Ranchi on Wednesday while quartermiler Ashwini Akkunji and sprinter H M Jyothi, who are in the national camp, will join the team in Ranchi. Sprinter Salim Shaikh pulled out of the team due to an injury. The Open Nationals begin on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the AFI also directed the KAA to announce its elections within seven days. AFI president Adille Sumarivala, in an e-mail to Satyanarayana, pointed out that KAA had overstepped the deadline set for it to hold the polls. Sumarivala warned that in case the KAA failed to meet the deadline, AFI will step in to see that the interest of the athletes and athletics in Karnataka is protected.

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