Jaipur: The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) said Monday it has sacked long jumper M Sreeshankar’s coach. This is because of the poor performance of M Sreeshankar in the Tokyo Olympics. Incidentally, Sreeshankar was being coached by his father S Murali.
Officials of the AFI met here for a two-day executive council meeting which concluded Monday. AFI officials said a tournament similar to a national championship or a final trial will be held before the Olympics and the World Championships to select the teams for these events.
Sreeshankar had breached the Tokyo Olympics qualification mark with a national record jump of 8.26m in the Federation Cup in March. However, the 22-year-old Sreeshankar fared poorly at the fitness trials just before Tokyo Olympics. The AFI at one point of time was contemplating to withdraw Sreeshankar from the Olympics.
However, the AFI cleared Sreeshankar for the Games finally. It happened after his coach submitted a written assurance that his athlete would produce at least the qualification performance in Tokyo. But that was not to be as he recorded his poorest jump at the Games.
“We are not happy with his (Murali’s) coaching programme. The first action is already being taken as we have changed his (Sreeshankar) coach,” AFI president Adille Sumariwalla said.
It is understood that the AFI’s decision to introduce a ‘final’ tournament before marquee global events such as the Olympics and World Championships is a fallout of the episode involving Sreeshankar and the national federation.
“The qualification period for the Olympics and World Championships is a very long one. So there will now be a final trial, it will actually be a championship and that will be a final one for selecting the teams,” said AFI’s planning committee chairman Lalit K Bhanot.
This is being done to ensure athletes retain peak form before major events. The veteran administrator also said India will send a full-strength squad to next year’s Asian Games. However, that may not be the case for the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games.
“Those who qualify will be sent to the World Championship but we will send a full-strength team to Asian Games. As far as CWG is concerned, it will depend on the events we are expected to do well and where we don’t stand a chance,” informed Bhanot.