Today News Online Service
New Delhi, April 17
In a classic case of official apathy towards non-Olympic sports discipline in an Olympic year, India’s compound archery team was left stranded on the Karnal bypass for over two hours.
The confusion happened after a coach travelling with the team tested positive. The Archery Association of India (AAI) in tandem with the Sports Authority of India (SAI) first decided to send the team for the Archery World Cup Stage 1 sans the coach.
However, the recurve team raised objections about travelling with the compound team fearing exposure and AAI then decided to withdraw the compound archers from the competition that starts from Monday in Guatemala.
The recurve team, which was training in Pune, had to join the compound team at the Indira Gandhi International Airport to take the 2:30 am flight today for the World Cup. What is shocking is the way the team was left to fend for itself in all this confusion. “First it was decided that the team will travel sans the coach. Then troubles began as few from the recurve team objected to taking the same flight with us,” said a source.
“First it was decided that both the teams will be withdrawn. Then they said that the recurve team needs competition before the Olympics and ultimately we were told that the compound team will not go,” he added.
AAI secretary general Pramod Chandurkar was unavailable for comments.
The source added that while the negotiation was happening, the bus carrying the eight-member team including seasoned campaigners Abhishek Verma, Rajat Chauhan and v Jyothi Surekha and three minors Pragati, Akshita and Sanchi Dhalla was standing still on the Karnal by-pass for over two hours.
“We left the SAI centre at about 4:30 PM and were there at least till 7 PM. We were even willing to spend our money to take the flight and needed entry fees. But clearly recurve remains the number one priority as always,” the source further said.
SAI director Lalita Sharma, who is the administrator of the Sonepat-based training centre, did not respond to calls.
The second coach Ravinder Sharma was not part of the travelling party and some of the senior members of the team had to liaise with the parents after SAI decided to shut its doors on the stranded archers and sent them back home in isolation.
While Jyothi booked a flight back to her hometown Vijayawada and left for the airport directly from the by-pass, some of the archers returned to Sonepat to pick up their cars to return home late last night.