India failed to live up to the pre-Games hype that was generated around the 118-strong contingent that had left for the Rio 2016 Olympics. The largest ever Indian contingent in its Olympic history managed to cough up just two medals in Rio.
The tally was considered disappointing especially after India had won six medals in London four years ago. In the fallout to the Rio Games, India's long distance runner OP Jaisha created a stir in the media on Monday by claiming that she wasn't provided with basic facilities like water during the 42km-run in the Women's marathon event at the end of which the 33-year-old athlete had fainted.
"I could have died there", said a distraught Jaisha on Monday as she recalled the women's marathon event at Rio Olympics during which she claimed she was not provided any water and energy drinks by the officials despite designated stations being given for India.
However, the Athletics Federation of India dismissed Jaisha's claims as their Secretary CK Valson said that she made those allegations against the Athletics body to cover up for her poor performance in the marathon event. "She under-performed in the marathon, maybe that’s why she has thrown this blame," Valson told ANI on Tuesday.
— ANI (@ANI_news) August 23, 2016
"It is the responsibility of the organisers to provide water and energy drinks. For that there are water and energy stations throughout the course. We could have provided water and energy drinks to our athletes but neither they nor their coaches informed us that they would need water and energy drinks separately," AFI Secretary C K Valson, who was also in Rio during the competitions, told PTI on Monday.
Earlier on Tuesday, Jaisha's fellow marathoner Kavita Raut had issued a statement that contrasted Jaisha, suggesting the AFI had offered her energy drinks and had no complaints regarding the facilities provided by the AFI.
— ANI (@ANI_news) August 23, 2016
According to a report on The Indian Express, the two-time Asian Games bronze winner responded to AFI's reply by saying that "she couldn't fight against the authorities, but only she and God knew the truth".
"I cant fight against the government or AFI and win maybe, but God and I know the truth, and I owe that to sports. I am sure that had something grave happened to me, AFI would have still said that OP Jaisha didnt avail refreshment," Jaisha was quoted as saying according to the report.
As per the regulations of the IAAF, it is the duty of the federation and coach to deploy officials with the necessary refreshments, as an athlete can't consume refreshments from desks of other contingents which might lead to disqualification.
"We are supposed to be given drinks by our technical officials, it's the rule. We cannot take water from any other team. I saw the Indian board there but there was nothing. I had a lot of problem, I fainted after the race. I was administered glucose, I thought I would die," Jaisha said on Monday.
The runner claimed that she got no response from officials when she asked why water was not provided to her at the stalls.
"I asked officials why there was no water for us but I got no response. I don't know what they were doing. There were a lot of people in the Indian athletics contingent, anybody could have done this job," Jaisha told Times Now.
There will most likely be no return to the Olympics for Jaisha considering her age, and the treatment meted out to national record holder at her swansong Games just goes to show the pathetic state of Indian sports and exposes the indifference among the Indian sports officials.