Indian athletes to train in Bhutan

Indian athletes to train in Bhutan

Sudha Singh

India's middle and long distance runners will be in Bhutan for four weeks for high altitude training as part of preparations for the upcoming Asian Games.

A 17-member team, along with three coaches and a masseur, will train at the Thimphu Athletics Track and Field Centre from May 21 to June 20.

The Indian team comprises the likes of Sudha Singh, P U Chitra, L Suriya, Lakshmanan Govindan, Gopi Thonakal, Ajay Kumar Saroj and Jinson Johnson. They are the second batch of Indian track and field athletes to depart for foreign training. A 14-member team of quarter-milers (both men and women) left for Spala in Poland on May 14.

Bhutan has no athletics credentials and is a minnow in South Asia also, but the height of the training centre (above 2500m from sea level), its good synthetic track and the low cost have attracted the bosses of Athletics Federation of India, and the Sports Ministry has given clearance for the trip.

Interestingly, this facility has an India connection. According to AFI officials, former Indian Olympic Association President Suresh Kalmadi had played a big role in laying the synthetic track at this training centre when he was a member of the IAAF Council. The synthetic track was laid in 2012 through IAAF funding.

AFI President Adille Sumariwalla said that Thimphu was an ideal place for training for middle and long-distance runners.

"The training centre in Thimphu is located at a height of more than 2500m while our athletes have been training at below 2000m. So, it will certainly benefit our athletes for the upcoming events. Moreover, the cost of staying and training there is less compared to training in any other country," Sumariwalla told PTI.

"Bhutan is a friendly country, in our neighbourhood and Indian officials have helped them some years back in laying the synthetic track," he said.

Other athletes who will be training in Thimphu are Arjun Kumar, Durga Bahadur Budha, Jeeva Satran Ashokan, Kalidas Laxman Hirave, Pradeep Singh Chaudhary, Sahil Thakaran, Ankit, Chinta Yadav, Meenu and Jhuma Khatun.

"We are looking forward to receiving the Indian athletes at our training centre. The training centre was established in 2012 and we have a very good synthetic track and I am sure they will enjoy training here," Bhutan Amateur Athletics Federation General Secretary Tenzin Dorji said from Thimphu.