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India’s javelin coach skewers Olympic preparations

New Delhi, India: India’s javelin coach has accused the country’s sporting bodies of failing to adequately prepare New Delhi’s athletes for the Olympic Games in Tokyo next month.

German coach Uwe Hohn said the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) “did not do enough” to provide high-level competitive training for its athletes.

The 58-year-old is a former world record holder who has coached India’s javelin team for more than three years, including Neeraj Chopra in 2018 when he became the country’s first javelin champion at the Commonwealth Games.

“When I came here I thought I could change something but it’s probably too difficult with these people at SAI or AFI,” Hohn told the Indian Express.

“I don’t know if it’s lack of knowledge or ignorance. Beside camps or competitions, even when we ask via our nutritionist for supplements for our athletes, we don’t get the right stuff.”

Chopra, 23, a rising star of Indian athletics, has left the country to train and compete in Europe.

But other javelin teammates in the Olympic squad, including Shivpal Singh, remain in Patiala city in the northern state of Punjab, where they are training in stifling summer conditions.

“I’m actually not sure how exactly it (Chopra going to Europe) happened but I guess it was with the help and connection of JSW,” Hohn said of the Indian conglomerate that manages the sportsman.

“Definitely nothing from the SAI or AFI. They both definitely did not do enough to get our athletes to camps or competitions (overseas).”

Hohn added that he and biomechanics expert Klaus Bartonietz were “blackmailed” into signing their latest coaching contracts “otherwise we wouldn’t have got paid anymore”.

“They said they would review our coaching in April and then increase our salaries. Like all promises before, these were only empty words,” he added.

“That’s not the way you work with people and coaches who like to help Indian athletes to get closer to their potential.”

The SAI told AFP that the athletics federation would issue a statement in response to Hohn’s comments.

India, the second-most populous country in the world, returned from the 2016 Rio Olympics with just two medals.

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