National Games timing wrong: Khade''s coach

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Tapan Mohanta

Ranchi, Feb 14 (PTI) Karnataka swimming coach Nihar Ameentoday hit out at the organisers of the 34th National Games,saying top athletes were missing due to the wrong timing ofthe multi-sporting event following several postponements.

Ameen, who coaches Indian swimming sensation VirdhawalKhade of Maharashtra in his academy in Bangalore, said theorganisers wanted to hold the National Games just for the sakeof it.

"I don''t see any point of these National Games. Thetiming is not ideal for these Games. It''s too cold too trainin Bangalore and I''m sure the situation is worse in NorthIndian states. Nobody will be in their peak with the lack ofpreparation," Ameen told PTI.

Ameen has a genuine reason to be angry as some of the topswimmers, including his state''s Rehan Poncha, who was adjudgedbest athlete of the 33rd National Games in Guwahati in 2007,were missing from the event.

"We all were short on preparation. Nobody really knewwhether this time the National Games were happening. We allwere hoping that it would be postponed again and unsure of theparticipation. It was all decided suddenly," he said referringto Poncha''s absence.

"Definitely we are missing Poncha badly. I don''t know thereasons. Maybe he is taking rest after the Asian Games," hesaid.

Karnataka was hit hard by Poncha''s absence on the openingday of swimming as they managed only one gold, three silverand one bronze as Khade, representing Maharashtra, clinchedtwo gold with two meet records.

In Poncha''s absence, the 24-member Karnataka swimmingcontingent''s hopes rest on Arjun JP (breaststroke and sprintfreestyle), Gagan AP (distance freestyle), Rohit Havaldar(backstroke and freestyle) and Ashwin Menon (backstroke andfreestyle).

Ameen said a proper calendar for athletes should be readyat 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 inadvance. How athletes are winning medals at world stagedespite this is extremely unbelievable. The system isdifficult to understand," said a miffed Ameen.

"The only motivation for them is good cash awards torecover the huge expense they incur from training and exposuretrips," he said. .

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