In a body blow to Indian athletics ahead of the next year's Rio Olympics, renowned Russian middle and long distance coach Dr Nikolai Snesarev has sent his resignation letter to the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) citing poor infrastructure as the primary reason. (Poor Infrastructure Plagues Athletes on Eve of National Hockey Meet)
Confirming the development, Nikolai, whose contract runs till the end of 2016 Rio Olympics, said he had written to the AFI and SAI citing Article 21 of the SAI constitution under which one has to give a month's notice before terminating the contract midway. Dr Nikolai had taken charge in February last year.
"What's next? Huh! I want to terminate my contract this month and go back. I don't want to work with this sort of facilities. I've written to AFI five-six days ago, quoting Article 21 and I will leave at this month's end," an angry Dr Nikolai told PTI during an exclusive interaction on the sidelines of the 55th National Open Athletics Championship at SAI Complex.
The 67-year-old, who is credited for the rise of India's two Olympic prospects Lalita Babar (3000m steeplechase) and OP Jaisa (long distance runner) was categorical in stating that both runners are set to draw a blank at the Olympics.
"They (Jaisha and Babar) will draw a big zero in Olympics with this standard. The reality is it is still a very bad performance, there's a lot and lot more to improve," he said.
While some in AFI claim this to be a pressure tactic and wants to negotiate with India's best athletics coach at the moment, Dr Nikolai made it clear that he has had enough.
"There are no bad students in India but there are just bad teachers!" he said sarcastically implying that the country of more than a billion has no dearth of talents but it's the poor coaching standard that's one of the factors hampering their growth.
"In this sub-tropical climate what you need is good indoor facilities to train your athletes. This, I'm not demanding this, that's how the Olympic preparation goes all over the world. Here you don't have proper training facilities and how can you produce elite athletes?" he thundered.
The AFI was tightlipped about the development with their secretary CK Valson was in no mood to comment making it clear that the parent body can see the writing on the wall.
Lalita last month made history in the IAAF World Championships in Beijing by smashing her own national record by clocking 9:27.86 seconds in the semi-finals before finishing eighth in the final.
She had become only fourth athlete after Inderjeet Singh (shot put), Anju George (women's long jump) and Vikas Gowda (shot put) to enter the final of a World meet as she's seen as one of the medal prospects for India at Rio 2016.
Both Lalita and Jaisha who also has achieved her best and qualified for Rio 2016 from Mumbai marathon after switching to the 42.195, have credited their rise to the Russian coach, who is reverred all over the globe.