While other athletes battled the limits of their strength and stamina to win medals at Rio, Indian athletes had more than that to overcome – Marathon runner O P Jaisha has claimed that she collapsed at the end of the Marathon as the Indian officials failed to provide her even water during the run.
Jaisha, who was one of India's entries in the Marathon event, recalled her ordeal at the event. She said, "Though there were officials from all other countries to provide refreshments to their runners at designated points -after every 2.5 km -there was no one from India and our desks were empty next to the country's name and flag," reported ToI.
"I don't know how I managed to finish without getting enough water to drink. The organizers provided water and sponge only at 8-km intervals. The water from these stations lasted hardly 500m and it was almost impossible to run after the 30-km mark under the scorching sun," said Jaisha.
While the organizers put up their own stations over the route of the Marathon, the teams are permitted to put up stations at four other points to provide their athletes with necessary fluids.
"While other athletes had the luxury of taking glucose, honey etc there was nothing for us (Jaisha and Kavita) to drink at our stations. Not even water," Jaisha said.
The long-distance runner reportedly collapsed at the end of her race and did not even have a doctor to treat her from the Indian contingent. "They injected seven bottles of glucose to help me recover. I didn't see any doctor from our contingent while help came from fellow marathon runner Gopi T and coach Radhakrishnan Nair. Coach Nikolai was also there for few hours before he was taken away by the organizers," she said.
Jaisha also said that she was unwell after a brief period of convalescence. She said, "I was OK for the next few days. But now I'm feeling very weak and it will take at least 2-3 months of ayurvedic treatment and massage for my body to recover," reported ToI.
Indian officials have come under intense criticism for their lackadaisical approach at the Olympics. The rut began at the top after the Sports Minister was warned by the Olympic organizers that he will be banned after being found flouting rules to enter prohibited areas for taking selfies. Many of them were found partying when the athletes were struggling for even basic amenities, and the doctors have come under particular criticism after it was revealed that both the doctors at the campaign were radiologists while Sports medicine specialists should have been sent. Of additional interest is the fact that one of them is the son of the IOA Vice President while the other is a relative of the General Secretary.
Jaisha's case has been the last straw highlighting the need to reform our International sports bodies if we are to avoid embarrassing ourselves, and more importantly, doing a great disservice to the athletes who have endured immense hardships to get to that stage.