Mangaluru: Abhishek from Nelyadi Puttur, after winning the first round of the Decathlon held under the National Athletics Championship 2015 at the Mangala Stadium here, speaking to mangalorean.com said, “I am very happy that I am leading. I am also sad because I did not get much time to practice for the 19th Federation Cup. I scored 6800 points in the last national games held in Kerala.
He further said, “I work in the Western Railway Mumbai. They have supported me a lot, but in my own state, I did not get any support. I was supposed to take part in the international sports meet “World combined event” which was held in Mauritius from April 8 to 12. I went to the Bengaluru Regional Passport office to apply for my passport, but they demanded proof that I am participating in the event. I did not get any support from my state, I wasted one month of my precious time going from pillar to post to get my passport work done. Later, I went to Mumbai and explained them about my plight. Immediately, the Western Railway authorities provided me a letter and helped me apply for my passport, even though I did not have the documents. Within three days, I got a fresh passport and I attended the event in Mauritius and stood 6th in the event.”
He further said, “We put all of our efforts and play to bring laurels for our country, but we are not supported. I struggled a lot just to obtain a passport. They issue passports to everyone, but being a athlete the Bengaluru Regional Passport Office did not support me. Recently, a youth was unable to apply for his passport in Mumbai to go to the gulf due to some issues, but he was successful in obtaining his passport in Bengaluru. After being denied the passport the first time, I had gone to the Bengaluru Regional Passport Office again with a recommendation letter from MP Nalin Kumar Kateel, but they did not accept it. Instead, they threw me out of the office. If this is the case for athletes, how can out state expect to get any medals in the National or International events?” he questioned.
When asked about taking part in the event in his home town, Abhishek said, “I am from Nelyadi Puttur, but I did not get any support from my hometown. When the national games were organized in Kerala, we received very good support from the public. But here, in Mangaluru we do not get any support. The stadium is empty. It was highlighted in the media that a crowd of about 20,000 was expected for the inaugural function but when I saw the stadium, I felt sad. Mangaloreans do not support athletes, they only support cricket. If there is a cricket match, people will rush to the stadium to watch it, they do not support any other sport the same way. If the athletes in India have to get support from the people, we need to stop playing cricket.”
When asked about the support from AFI or any other organization Abhishek said that the Secretary of the Athletic Federation of India C K Valson and the Karnataka Athletic Federation Secretary Chandrashekar Rai supported him by extending his time. “Now I work for the Western Railway Mumbai but I practice in Moodbidri. Dr Mohan Alva is supporting me a lot. Even in Kerala, athletes get very good support. Many people in Mangaluru do not even know the meaning of Decathlon. If you go and ask people in Kerala, what is Decathlon, they will tell you everything about it. This is the pathetic situation of Mangaluru in identifying athletes and supporting them.”
When asked about the stadium track, Abhishek said, “I was not interested to take part in the 19th Federation Cup because the synthetic track is not up to the mark. Today, when I was running on the track, I stepped on a stone and was slowed down, with the spikes on while running at high speed, if you step on small stones, it makes you lose your balance and slows you down affecting the results. Another athlete has also injured his hamstring. The track is hard. There is no proper maintenance and the quality of the track is very poor. The track was not even cleaned after the stage programme. If we participate in such tracks, we will not be able to qualify for any international events.”