District sports officials have been demanding for a synthetic track
For talented athletes in Salem, their daily practice at the Mahatma Gandhi stadium means a tiff with the morning walkers and at times with cricketers here. The ground, which is primarily meant to mould talented athletes, is being used for morning and evening walks and for Sunday cricket.
The district has over 40 national level medallists. The students here have been bringing laurels in events such as high jump, pole vault and hurdles without having the necessary amenities to practice. Often, students are forced to practice at private institutions due to lack of equipment at the stadium. The district sports officials have been making all-out efforts for a synthetic track.
Athletes practising here feel that once the synthetic tracks are laid, there would be less interference from the walkers. A district sports official said, “the students here are highly talented. But they do not have necessary amenities to practice. We have been demanding for a synthetic track here. Currently, they are practising in an unfavourable conditions. There are lack of equipment and through our individual interests we have arranged them equipment from private institutions.” The official said that up to 70 students practice in the morning and 130 students in the evening within in the limited space at the stadium.
A pole vault national medallist in senior category said, “in the 400-metre track, we get to use only 100 metres. That too, by demarcating the start and end points with hurdle frames. Even for this, the walkers quarrel with us. They say we are taking away their space. Steps must be taken to arrange separate walkers track here so that we could practice peacefully.” Another medallist in pole vault laments that aren’t any proper apparatus to practice and they end up spending hours a day stitching the mats which gets torn after every practice. The existing equipment gets damaged soon and often during practice, we end up landing on the ground, injuring ourselves”, laments a pole vault national medalist.
A national-level high jumper said that the high jump pit has rough mud and the runway is filled with stones as outsiders are using the space. “We are sure that we could win in Olympics if we have proper sport equipment. A synthetic track would also prevent outsiders from using the space. Currently, we are forced to practice till late evenings and there are poor lighting facilities here”, laments the high jumper.
Athletes participating in throw events said that they are often forced to be wary about their surroundings during practice because there are no separate nets to prevent the apparatus from falling on others.
Students here have also demanded a better gym and internationally certified sporting apparatus to practice.
A district sports official said that they have been proposing for synthetic track and better amenities and they are awaiting funds. Officials said that the gallery was renovated recently following damages.
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