No water during run: Indian Olympian

Country’s refreshment stalls along marathon route empty

Rio de Janeiro: An Olympic woman marathon runner from India has alleged she was not provided water and energy drinks by Indian officials at designated stations.

OP Jaisha said she “could have died” after the women’s marathon in Rio.

Jaisha, 33, finished in 89th place and collapsed after finishing the 42km (26 miles) race in two hours 47 minutes 19 seconds last week.

Indian officials denied the allegation and said Jaisha and her coach had refused refreshments.

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) said officials in Rio were not told by the athletes or their coaches about any specific requirement for any drinks.

“It is the responsibility of the organisers to provide water and energy drinks. For that there are water and energy stations throughout the course,” senior AFI official CK Valson told the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency.

“We could have provided water and energy drinks to our athletes but neither they nor their coaches informed us that they would need water and energy drinks separately.”

Jaisha said she ran “in scorching heat” and there was no water available from Indian officials during the race.

“Only once in 8km did we get water [from the Rio organisers] which did not help at all. All the countries had their stalls at every 2km but our country’s stall was empty,” she was quoted as saying by PTI.

Jaisha had to be taken to hospital after finishing the race.

“We are supposed to be given drinks by our technical officials, it’s the rule. We cannot take water from any other team. I saw the Indian board there but there was nothing,” she said.

“I had a lot of problem, I fainted after the race. I was administered glucose, I thought I would die.”

Jaisha said she got no response from officials when she asked why water was not provided to her at the stalls.

“I don’t know who to blame for this. May be nobody realises the seriousness of a marathon, the fact that we have to run 42km,” she said.

India’s Sports Minister Vijay Goel has said he will investigate the allegation.  “I’ll look into this and if there was negligence of any sort, action will be taken,” he told NDTV.

India finished with just two medals at the Rio Games, fewer than the six medals it won during its best-ever performance in London four years ago.

Meanwhile, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) dubbed the abysmal treatment of Jaisha at the Olympics as shameful and demanded the resignation of Goel.

NCP leader Majid Memon said, “Is it not a matter of great shame for us? We have to hang our heads in shame that our athletes who go to compete at world level, internationally, and we are expecting that they would bring gold for us, and we are not able to provide them water.

“I don’t know how the administration can be so careless, so insensitive and irresponsible I think the sports minister’s resignation should be a small compensation for this,” said Memon.

Jaisha said that while running the marathon at the Rio Olympics, she encountered a series of unstaffed Indian desks, and that there was nobody to give her water or refreshments in blistering heat.

“Running that distance, in that heat, you need so much water. There is a common water point after 8 kilometres, but you need water after each kilometre. Other athletes were getting food along the way. I got nothing. I could have died there,” she said.

Competitors’ countries are entitled to place a desk every 2.5 kilometres to offer them liquids. Instead, it was official Olympics counters – placed about 8 kilometres apart – that Jaisha had to rely on.

Jaisha finished 89th in the Rio Olympics women’s marathon event with a timing of 2:47:19, and collapsed after reaching the end of the race. She was immediately taken to the nearest medical facility, where her coach Nikolai Snesarev got into an altercation with one of the doctors and ended up being detained for half-a-day by the local police.

Five embarrassing moments for India in Rio

  • Indian boxers were threatened with disqualification after they turned up in shirts which didn’t have India’s logo – a key requirement at the Games.
  • Sports Minister Vijay Goel was reportedly warned after some of his staff behaved rudely and tried to enter the venues without proper accreditation.
  • The minister received further criticism when he wished luck to Indian sprinter Srabani Nanda, but ended up posting the picture of another athlete, Dutee Chand, with his tweet.
  • The appointment of a radiologist as the chief medical officer of the Indian team in Rio also received criticism. Authorities, however, said that the radiologist, the son of a senior sports official, “knew sports medicine well”.
  • Some hockey players complained that they were invited to an official function to celebrate India’s Independence Day, but “were only given peanuts to eat instead of proper dinner”.

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