'Athletes need exposure'

'Athletes need exposure'

Track legend P T Usha on Sunday underlined the need to give more exposure for the athletes so that they can do well on the international stage.

Usha, who was in Bangalore as brand ambassador of the GFK Run to be held in the city in September, said lack of quality competition abroad was affecting the progress of the athletes, including her ward Tintu Luka.

“If you take Tintu Luka’s case, she is getting all her exposure only at the big events –  like the Commonwealth or the Asian Games or the Olympics or the Worlds. Before any major meet, athletes should get more competitions outside so they can perform well,” said Usha.

The former track queen had a harrowing experience prior to the Commonwealth Games when Tintu had to pullout of three scheduled preparatory meetings in Europe, because of the delay in getting the biometrics done for the Glasgow event. “Such things affect us badly. Tintu was in good form but you need to run races to get into groove. In the 800M semifinals, Tintu’s was spiked by a rival athlete and her spikes were torn. In the process, she got boxed in and she could not move out.

“That is happening because there is no exposure for her before the major events. Even (long jumper) Mayookha Johny faces similar issues with lack of exposure,” said Usha.

 Usha expressed confidence that Indian athletes would come up with a stronger show at next month’s Asian Games in Incheon.

“In Asian Games we will get more medals. Tintu (Luka), Vikas Gowda and Arpinder Singh are in the top three in Asia. (M R) Poovamma is the second best in Asia. I believe they stand a chance to compete in the World Cup (IAAF Continental Cup to be held in Marrakech, Morocco on September 13 and 14). I feel we have a very good chance in the track and field events at the Asian Games.”

The 50-year-old who was nicknamed Payyoli Express said the facilities in New Delhi 2010 were way better than Glasgow. “There is no comparison. This is not just me, other countries also felt Delhi was better. The accommodation at the Village had very small rooms and eight people had to share a bathroom. There was big difference in the food as well. While we offered varieties catering to several nationalities, food at Glasgow was limited.”

Usha was also critical of the training facilities there. “It was rainy, windy and cold more often. The tents kept leaking. While some countries were given massage tables, India were not offered one.

“They were not very obliging with respect to the scheduling too and the warm-up facilities were bad. You can run 10 minutes in the rain with the raincoat but you can’t run one and a half hours in the rain. So there were no indoor facilities to do your training in the rain.”

The GFK (Get Fit For Kids) Run, which promises to bring together competitive and fun elements of fitness, will be held on September 7 at KTPO, Whitefield.

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