“The 90-day challenge of organising the entire event for the 22nd Asian Athletic Championship has been quite brilliantly implemented by the state government and all the tireless efforts that have gone into it are worth a huge applause,” says former hurdle queen of Odisha, Anuradha Biswal. A member of both governing and executive bodies for the Asian Athletic Championship, Anuradha is a well-known Indian track and field athlete who specialised in 100 metre hurdles. Currently working in NALCO, Anuradha spoke to My City Links about the historic event and how it can boost the spirit of Odia athletes.
What is your take on the Asian Athletic Championship being held in Odisha?
I am very happy that Odisha is hosting this Asian championship and Kalinga Stadium has been chosen as the venue for it. Unfortunately, I could never get the opportunity of playing Asian Athletic Championship in my home ground during my long 25-year career. Nevertheless, I would like to congratulate the state government for the efforts they have put in for organising everything so efficiently in such a short duration. Not only Odisha, Kalinga Stadium too will get recognition on an international platform thanks to this championship. And, the youth of the state will also be encouraged to take up athletic games due to such an event taking place in the state.
What special arrangements have been made in the stadium in view of the monsoon?
There are many instances of athletic games being held during the monsoon. I have also experienced heavy rainfall during my career many a times. As the stadium is sloping, a little rain wouldn’t affect the ground, but if it rains heavily, some problems might come up. Also, synthetic tracks have been laid for the purpose around the ground. In case it rains, the water will dry up due to the cement sloping and high quality grass that is planted on the ground. It will not affect the athletes much.
Can you predict anything about the results of the Asian Championship?
I guess, there will be a tough competition among the athletes. China, Korea and Japan will perform better than the remaining countries. Five athletes will take part in the championship from Odisha including Dutee Chand, Srabani Nanda, Amiya Mallick, Jauna Murmu and Purnima Hembram. These athletes definitely will try to bring laurels for the state and give their best in the game. If the sprinters would keep a track of their start-up time, Odisha will surely be able to grab medals. This tournament can be considered the ticket for entering the World Athletic Championship.
The championship will witness the participation of over 800 athletes from 45 countries. What kind of security facilities have been made for them?
As I am a member of the governing as well as executive committee, I have kept an eye on every single thing. Both the government and administration have been supervising the security aspect along with various other facilities concerning the athletes including their transportation, accommodation and fooding. All the athletes including those from outside India will get the same kind of facilities and provisions that have been given to Odia athletes when they have gone abroad to play. Everything has been taken care of.
Why haven’t the hoardings and poster advertisements featured our Odia athletes?
When these kind of large events are organised in other countries, photographs of their athletes are displayed on the hoardings and advertisements. And since this time, Odisha is hosting the championship, placing photographs and short clippings of some Odia athletes in hoardings and ads should have been done. Our athletes would have been more excited then. Alike Haladhar, many top athletes from our state are known across the country and thus placing their photographs would have been quite encouraging. But I think because of such a hectic and busy schedule and lack of time for preparation of the event, this idea to display photos of our own athletes might have skipped everyone’s mind!
In what way do you think will this championship help our athletes and sports in Odisha?
The misconception that there isn’t proper infrastructure for athletics in Odisha will completely vanish from peoples’ minds after Asian Athletics Championship. The most important thing is that Kalinga Stadium is now renovated with high quality tracks, floodlights and electronics and modern machineries. Not only athletes, even the youth would now be attracted to play various games due to the new facilities at the stadium. I hope Odia athletes will have the faith and confidence on themselves to give their best for AAC.