New Delhi: In a massive infrastructural lapse combined with indifference of authorities towards the athletes of the country, three national records and one potential Olympic qualification timing failed to register, simply because of a power failure at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.
The Indian Grand Prix meet, an Olympic qualifying event, was held without electricity, due to which the timings were recorded manually, which is not accepted by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). To qualify for the Olympics, the timings have to be electronically recorded.
In the manually recorded timings, four records were improved. Two athletes - Amiya Kumar Mallick (Men’s 100m) and Srabani Nanda (Women’s 100m) – recorded 10.09 secs and 11.23 secs respectively, well under the Olympics cut-off which is 10.16 secs and 11.32 secs.
The timings, however, will serve no purpose as they were recorded on a digital stop watch, risking a few dreams and national pride.
Delhi Athletics Association, the organising authority, blamed the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and stadium administrator for the fiasco.
"We paid Sports Authority of India Rs 1.15 lakh to book the JLN Stadium and outside practice track area for the Indian GP and for Federation Cup (to be held from April 28-30). We also paid Rs 15,000 for security purposes. But to our surprise we found 15 minutes before the start of the meet that there is no electricity at the stadium," a Delhi Athletics Association official told reporters.
"We contacted the SAI officials and stadium administrator and we were told that there was fire on the transformer and fire brigade was called. But we asked him about the back-up power supply and we could have paid for the cost of diesel to be used for the back-up power supply. It was a really sad situation for the athletes," the official added.
The buck-passing continued with the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) washing off its hands on the debacle, saying that it was the responsibility of the state unit to ensure that everything was in order.