Hyderabad: Much after sprinter Dutee Chand dashed out of Hyderabad owing to a run down athletics track, to train at the classy Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, the Sports Authority of Telangana State is looking to lay a brand new one at the Athletics Stadium in GMC Balayogi Sports Complex, Gachibowli.
“Yes, it has worn out but we are trying for a replacement of the 16-year-old track, laid in 2002 when Hyderabad hosted the National Games. We have petitioned the Government of India for support under infrastructure development, they are yet to take a decision,” A. Dinakar Babu, vice-chairman and managing director of the Sports Authority of Telangana State, told this newspaper on Tuesday.
“We have already laid new tracks in Warangal, Karimnagar and Medak in the last two years. Relaying of the Hyderabad track was slotted in the second phase. Once we get the Government nod, we will go for tenders and lay a brand new one. It could take two or three months because we have to compete with other States as well to secure the sanction,” the SATS chief added.
According to informed estimates, a good track should cost Rs 7 crore and there are quite a few companies in India which deal with them.
Dutee, who has been training here, has shifted to her home state of Odisha in her quest to qualify for next year’s Olympics. She has timed 11.22 seconds in the 100 metres at the National Open championships held in October and needs to cut it to 11.15, the qualifying mark for the 2020 Tokyo Games. She has time until June-July next year to make the cut though, at a National level or any of the recognised competitions.
“The only synthetic track in Hyderabad has worn out. It was good in 2016 until when it was properly maintained. This is where I trained and qualified for Rio Olympics. After the government opened it up to everyone — walkers, joggers and conducting of private tournaments — the state of the track deteriorated and it got damaged. I had even suffered a hamstring injury last year while practising on it,” Dutee complained.
“Here in Bhubaneswar I have access to a lot of facilities — gym, swimming pool et al — apart from a new track, that’s the reason why I left Hyderabad,” the 23-year-old said of the track laid in 2017 for the Asian Athletics Championships.
However, Dutee says the shift is not for good. “I have not moved out of Hyderabad permanently but will train away from it during competitions. My personal belongings are still lying at the Pullela Gopichand Academy where I used to stay and train,” she said.
Dutee’s Hyderabad-based coach N. Ramesh pointed to the crumbling track. “It has loosened up over the years. Dutee has been experiencing stiffness in her legs while training on it. It has hampered repetition running, which is part of training for sprinters. Dutee has to train in bursts over 50 and 60 metres wearing spikes and the track poses an injury risk,” he said.
“Top level athletes have to meticulously guard themselves against injuries lest they lose a lot. It’s a huge challenge,” he added.
Ramesh said the track needs to be replaced for the sake of upcoming athletes as well. “There are 40 athletes training at the Sports Authority of India Centre in Hyderabad, these are the ones who are winning medals for Telangana and are assets for the state,” he said.
He went on to list out a few. “Deepthi has clocked 11.94 seconds in the 100 metres Under 18 category at the ongoing Junior Nationals in Guntur. She is also a medallist at the Asian Youth Champion-ships held in Bangkok. Shanmuga Srinivas, who got a silver in the 200m and gold in the medley at the Asian Youth meet is another prospect. M. Maheshwari has broken the National record in 3,000m steeple chase at the South Zone as well as Junior Federation Cup events. Nithya Gade is also a promising athlete. If we can relay the track, it would be very helpful for them.”
Earlier, Hyderabad used to conduct regular athletics events, which have been discontinued for the last two years. An Open Nationals in 2016 ahead of the Rio Olympics was the last athletics event in the City....