In what comes as a shocking revelation from the world of Indian Sports, athletes Khushbir Kaur and Manish Singh Rawat, have been removed from the Indian team for the Asian Race Walking Championships, to be held in Nomi, Japan on 20 March 2017.
National record holder Khushbir’s name was present in the starting list but she chose not to take part in the women’s 20 km event. This enraged the AFI authorities as they had instructed all the athletes to take part in the championships.
Even top men’s 20 km race walker Manish Singh Rawat was at the receiving end as his name was also pulled out of the National Championships on Saturday at the last minute.
Khushbir Kaur, 23-year-old, 20-kilometre racewalker, first came to limelight after winning bronze in the 10,000-metre walk race at the 2012 Asian Junior Athletics Championships held in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Even during the National Open Championships in November 2014, Khushbir pulled out midway.
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Foreign coach Alexander Artsybashev, who had earlier stopped Khushbir from taking part in national level events is being held responsible by Khushbir for this decision. The Russian-born coach had stopped her from competing earlier too, citing the danger of her getting injured. Khushbir, on Sunday, said that she had to suffer for no fault of hers as it was her coach Alexander Artsybashev who told her not to take part in the event.
The AFI Selection Committee Chairman Gurbachan Singh Randhawa said that those who did not take part today, will not be selected for the Asian Championships. “Any athlete who did not participate today will not be selected for Asian Race Walking Championships. We have told all the athletes to take part in the championships if they want to be selected for the Asian event. We will be very tough on that,” Randhawa, who had finished fifth in 110m hurdles finals in 1964 Tokyo Olympics, told PTI. “I will also recommend to the AFI that these athletes be thrown out of the national camps. They cannot behave like this. We will see what reason their coach gives (for non-participation),” he added furiously.
On 5 February, during the announcement of this National Race Walk Championships, both Khushbir and Manish had said that they were 100 percent fit but their participation would be decided by national coach Alexander. But yesterday Alexander told reporters that both Khushbir and Rawat were not well and they were suffering from a cough and fever, so they had to skip the National Championships.
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After this, contrary to Alexander’s claim, both Khushbir and Rawat said that they were fit, but gave different reasons as to why they pulled out of the Nationals without informing the AFI.
“It is not my duty to inform the AFI. The coach is there for it. We have been training under a coach and please tell me whether I should listen to my coach (Alexander) or to AFI. He (Alexander) told me not to take part in the National Championships,” Khushbir said.
When asked if she was not well as claimed by her coach Alexander, Khushbir surprisingly replied, “I was not having a fever. I was not ill. But he (Alexander) told me that I will be given direct entry by the AFI for the Asian Championships and there is no need to take part in the National Championships.”
A top official revealed that Alexander has been playing the disappearing act with the AFI officials for some time now and he will be shown the door and another foreign coach, an Australian, will take over in the next couple of months.
Both Khushbir and Rawat hail from families of modest means. While Rawat has worked as a waiter for a living, Khushbir whose mother worked as a maid has also come a long way with her hard work from humble beginnings. This incident puts their hard work and training down the drain with a great opportunity missed to display their prowess. We hope the AFI authorities take the coach to task and come around with a change of heart.