March 1: India was on Monday deprived of at least three medals at the Asian Cross Country Championships in Bahrain due to an apparent goof-up by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) which did not field the required number of participants to be considered for team standings.
India fielded three athletes each in senior men, senior women, junior men and junior women categories in the championships and except in case of the first, the country should have won a team bronze each in the remaining three as they secured the third highest aggregate points. But strangely, India did not get any medal in the championships held in Manama. Sources said this was due to the reason that each country was to field four runners in each event though only the top three would be considered for counting of aggregate points for team results. India fielded only three runners in each event. Points are counted according to the position of each runner like one point for the winner, two for the second-place finisher and three for the third. The team which gets the lowest aggregate point will get the gold and so on.
When contacted, AFI President Adille Sumiriwalla said that he was in a meeting while Chief Operating Officer Manish Kumar did not respond after initially saying that he would give reasons why India did not get three bronze.
“It was clear from the (individual) results sheet of Asian Athletics Association that India should get three team bronze but will tell you later the reason why it was not so,” he said. He did not clarify why India did not get the medals.
In the senior women’s category, Bahrain runners grabbed all the three podium positions while India’s Sanjivani Jadhav, Swati Gadhave and Manisha Salunkhe finished 7th, 10th and 17th. This should have got India 34 (7+10+17) points in the team standings behind Bahrain (1+2+3=6 points), whose runners took the top three spots, and China (32 points) — whose three runners finished 8th, 11th and 13th. But only Bahrain and China were handed gold and silver respectively.
In the junior men’s category, Bahrain took the team gold as their runners took all the three top places and Japan got the silver as they secured 15 aggregate points (4+5+6) as their three runners finished fourth, fifth and sixth.
India should have got a bronze with 29 points (8+10+11) as Kisan Narshi Tadvi, Ansar Imam Dargiwale and Anil Kumar Yadav finished 8th, 10th and 11th respectively. Instead, Iran, who secured 49 points (12+17+20), was declared bronze winner.
The same was the case in junior women’s category as Bahrain won the gold with eight points as their three runners finished first, second and fifth. Japan got the bronze with 13 points (3+4+6) as their three runners finished third, fourth and sixth.
India should have earned a bronze as their aggregate point was 49 (11+12+16) as Arati Dattaray, Nandini Gupta and Sudha Pal finished 11th, 12th and 16th. But Jordan, who got 50 aggregate points, was awarded the bronze as it fielded four runners while only three Indians took part in the event and their points were not counted for team results.
Another AFI official later said that the Bahraini organisers did not inform them that four runners will have to take part to be considered for team championships. He said another country has also lodged a protest to the organisers regarding this issue.
“The organisers did not tell us that four runners will have to take part from a country to be considered for team championships,” he said. “The Sports Ministry did not fund the athletes for this championships and AFI had borne all the expenses. So, the selection committee thought we will field only three athletes in each of the four events. Moreover, the selectors found that there was no fourth athlete good enough for selection.”