Missing athletes should be stopped from national competitions for six months, says Usha

Stan Rayan


As the celebrations continue over the country’s maiden Thomas Cup badminton triumph, one felt it was a good time to have a look at how much Neeraj Chopra’s historic gold at the Tokyo Olympics has changed Indian athletics.

“Small developments have happened but I don’t think a massive change has come about,” said P.T. Usha in a chat with The Hindu.

“Neeraj’s gold has inspired youngsters, made them believe that they could win Olympic medals too. But we should be able to maintain that tempo.”

Kiren Rijiju, the then Sports Minister, inaugurated the Centralised Athlete Injury Management System last year but many top stars still seem to be carrying mysterious injuries and avoiding competitions.

“We don’t understand the injuries. Of course, injuries are a part of sport but it’s not nice if people say they are injured all the time,” said Usha, one of the greats of Indian sport. “We should work towards prevention of injuries, our injury management system should be top class.”

Usha felt the recent case of the missing quartermiler Aishwarya Mishra shows that enough steps are not there to check the doping menace.

“When a quartermiler clocks Asia’s fastest time, can we allow her to go missing? If she drops her time from 55 or 54s to 51 within a year, people in the field know that it is through some unfair means,” said Usha.

System needed

“There should be a system in place to consistently monitor such athletes. If the athlete is missing, isn’t it a bad thing for the system? Such missing athletes should not be allowed in major competitions for six months as a sort of punishment. And they should be included in the testing pool, if they go missing they will be in big trouble.”

And to bring quality, Usha suggested that only quartermilers clocking below 53.5s should be included in National camps.

Frequent change of competition venues also shows that planning needs to improve.

“Our athletes, especially non-campers, won’t have the money to book tickets when dates keep changing like this,” she said regarding the shifting of the upcoming two Indian GP legs from Madurai to Thiruvananthapuram and now to Bhubaneswar.

“Also live telecast of national meets is must, it will inspire new talent to enter the sport.”