Neeraj Chopra, Annu Rani snub foreign javelin expert Uwe Hohn ahead of trainingNovember 7, 2017
The javelin throw event has become a topic of intense debate in the salubrious environment of Patiala’s National Institute of Sports (NIS), one of the major training centres in Northern India.
The focus once again is on the poster boy of Indian athletics – Neeraj Chopra. The national champion and junior world record holder has opted to train in Germany, from where former world record holder Uwe Hohn — who landed in Patiala this week to train the core group of athletes for the 2018 Commonwealth and Asian Games — hails from.
Neeraj isn’t alone in chalking out his itinerary for the 2018 competitive season. Top woman javelin thrower Annu Rani too has decided to train under her personal coach, Kashinath Naik.
Hohn’s trainees include Davinder Singh, who reached the World Championships final at London in August. Chopra was eliminated in the preliminary round.
After Australia’s Garry Calvert quit the national camp in May, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) had recommended Hohn to take charge. After expressing his inability to join immediately, he arrived last week.
The absence of a specialist had hampered the training of top throwers in the buildup to the World Championships. While Neeraj was way below his best, Davinder wasn’t impressive in the final.
It is learnt that uncertainty over Hohn joining the camp was the reason behind Neeraj shifting his training base to Offenburg. He will be training with Werner Daniels, who had guided Christina Obergfoll to victory at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow.
Offenburg is also the training base of German world champion Johannes Vetter and it will be interesting to see how much Neeraj gains in elite company. Neeraj had also trained for a week in Offenburg before the World Championships.
Confusion in camp
Since Annu Rani, winner of bronze at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, has preferred to train with Kashinath Naik, her personal coach, it could snowball into a major controversy. The AFI is unhappy, hinting that Naik could be barred from the national preparatory camp on the grounds that he is influencing Rani not to train under Hohn.
AFI president Adille Sumariwala says Naik is good but must understand the need for coordination for good results. “If he is not ready to work as a team, we don’t need him. We will ask him to quit,” he told Hindustan Times.
Naik said he is not aware of the developments. “The federation hasn’t told me (to leave the camp). If Annu wants to train with her personal coach, what’s wrong in it? If an athlete has faith in me, that’s not my fault,” he said.
On the issue of foreign coach, he said, “We do take advice from him. There is no harm in learning and we try to incorporate it in our training,” he added.