Snesarev's return leaves two Indian coaches in the lurch

Two senior coaches at the Athletics Federation of India’s national camp has landed in a piquant situation after they were directed not to report for their training duties in order facilitate the entry of foreign coach Nikolai Snesarev.

Snesarev, who coached long distance runners Preeja Sreedharan and Kavita Raut as well as steeplechaser Sudha Singh to Asian success in his previous stint, returned to India last week after he was hired by the Sports Authority of India to prepare athletes for the forthcoming Commonwealth and Asian Games.

However, the athletes, who are training under Dronacharya awardees J S Bhatia and Renu Kohli at the SAI South Centre in Bangalore, were wary of returning to Snesarev, who is known as a hard taskmaster and a strict disciplinarian.

With the Belarusian forced to cool his heels, a top AFI official is learnt to have instructed Bhatia and Kohli to stay away from the training ground so that the athletes would report to Snesarev. It was a bitter pill for the duo who now stares at an uncertain future.

Kavita, Sudha Singh, Sushma and Jhuma Khatun are among those athletes who were training under Bhatia and Kohli. Preeja and Sajeesh Joseph, who were under Snesarev’s wings in his previous stint are in Munnar in Kerala, being coached by Ajith Markose, who is also coaching his wife Sini A Markose. Jhuma, it is learnt, went to train under Snesarev on Tuesday while the others are set to follow suit.

In the process, Bhatia and Kohli have been left in lurch, with no athletes to train.
“This is no way to treat our coaches,” said a senior coach on condition of anonymity.

“Athletes might have done well under Snesarev previously, but they have improved further, with Sudha bettering her national mark three times since then under Bhatia. The athletes were also told to train under Snesarev and obviously, they have no other choice. But these coaches have put in a lot of effort, sacrificing their family lives. They could have been treated with little more dignity.”

 It is learnt that a frustrated Bhatia was considering quitting the camp and going back home, as he has not been told what his responsibilities would be now. “What will he do now, there is no point in him sticking around doing nothing,” said a source.

Snesarev returned to India after the Sports Authority of India agreed to his demand for a higher salary and also hired his wife as a masseur.

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