Two of Indian track and field sports legends, World championship long jump medallist Anju Bobby George and Sriram Singh, who was seventh in the 800m in 1976 Olympic Games, were given the honour of being the first athletes to wear the simple and elegant team uniform unveiled by the Athletics Federation of India at its annual general meeting here today.
The uniform will easily distinguish the Indian athletes with its predominantly royal blue and stripes that incorporate saffron, white and green. Designed by AFI’s partner Shiv Naresh, the uniform is made of material that ensures the athlete’s highest level of comfort as it does not soak sweat and increase the load on the competitor.
The Federation took stock of India’s performances in the Asian Games in Jakarta last year and the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha earlier this year. While recording its happiness that the outcome was up to its expectation, AFI once again made a commitment to trying to help Indian athletes make their presence felt on the global stage.
“Government of India has acknowledged our efforts and AFI become the first National Sports Federation to get its Annual Calendar for Competition and Training approved till the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year. It has committed a lot of money, but we must ensure that we use it with responsibility, honesty and transparency,” AFI President Adille Sumariwalla said.
The Federation asked its members units from States and Union Territories to step up their activities to make track and field sport a more visible option for young athletes. “We want you to not only ensure that you stick to your respective annual calendars but also take up the responsibility of checking doping and age-fraud at the State level itself,” Mr. Sumariwalla said.
“We want to make the State officials accountable for the growing menace of age-fraud. It is important that they conduct the recommended medical tests for age verification,” the AFI President said, indicating how it denied genuine athletes and raised false image of potential. The Federation asked the member units to show activity on ground and not on-paper.
AFI High Performance Director Volker Hermann briefed the members about his plans to help India improve its showing on the global stage. “Indian athletics is like a raw, uncut diamond of immense value but one that cannot be sold now. It is our duty to shape it,” he said, sharing timelines for the Olympic Games in Tokyo (2020), Paris (2024) and Los Angeles (2028).
Mr. Hermann emphasised the need to place greater stress on quality of training rather than quantity. He took long jumper M Sreeshankar as a case study and pointed out that for a teenager who leapt to 8.20m last year, he could be expected to be in the 8.40m and 8.60m range as his career-best – good enough to be in Olympic medal reckoning if that performance came at the right time.
Source: Athletics Federation of India