Karnataka swimming coach Nihar Ameen today hit out at the organizers of the 34th National Games, saying top athletes were missing due to the wrong timing of the multi-sporting event following several postponements. Ameen, who coaches Indian swimming sensation Virdhawal Khade of Maharashtra in his academy in Bangalore, said the organizers wanted to hold the National Games just for the sake of it.
"I don't see any point of these National Games. The timing is not ideal for these Games. It's too cold to train in Bangalore and I'm sure the situation is worse in North Indian states. Nobody will be in their peak with the lack of preparation," Ameen told PTI.
Ameen has a genuine reason to be angry as some of the top swimmers, including his state's Rehan Poncha, who was adjudged best athlete of the 33rd National Games in Guwahati in 2007, were missing from the event.
"We all were short on preparation. Nobody really knew whether this time the National Games were happening. We all were hoping that it would be postponed again and unsure of the participation. It was all decided suddenly," he said referring to Poncha's absence.
"Definitely we are missing Poncha badly. I don't know the reasons. May be he is taking rest after the Asian Games," he said.
Karnataka was hit hard by Poncha's absence on the opening day of swimming as they managed only one gold, three silver and one bronze as Khade, representing Maharashtra, clinched two gold with two meet records.
In Poncha's absence, the 24-member Karnataka swimming contingent's hopes rest on Arjun JP (breaststroke and sprint freestyle), Gagan AP (distance freestyle), Rohit Havaldar (backstroke and freestyle) and Ashwin Menon (backstroke and freestyle).
Ameen said a proper calendar for athletes should be ready at least four years in advance to bring the best out of them. "Interest of the athletes should always be kept priority. We need to have a calendar in place at least four years in advance. How athletes are winning medals at world stage despite this is extremely unbelievable. The system is difficult to understand," said a miffed Ameen. "The only motivation for them is good cash awards to recover the huge expense they incur from training and exposure trips," he said.
Asked why the women swimmers were below par as compared to the men's, Ameen said, "For many years women were stronger than the men swimmers. But it's a role reversal of sorts now. I am not sure of the reason. There are bright swimmers in the age group categories but many drop out, may be because of education."
"This will be an important year for the swimmers with the World Championships in Shanghai due in July where Khade and Sandeep Sejwal will hope to earn berths for London 2012 Olympics. The year will also have World University Games and Asian Age Group Championships in another two important meets for the swimmers," he said.