“There are a lot of hopes on Neeraj Chopra (javelin) and Hima Das (400m) but I don’t want to predict anything because I’m superstitious that way,” Sumariwalla said at a media interaction organised by the Sports Journalists’ Association of Mumbai on Wednesday. “If I have to put my money on an event which we can win at next year’s World Championships or the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, I would say our best chance is in the relays.”
Sumariwalla, who is an 11-time national 100m champion, said Hima would have to improve her timing to under 50 seconds if she wanted to be a force to reckon with at international meets.
“Hima Das will have to get her time below 50. At the same time, we need to preserve her. Indeed she’s one for the future – if not this (2020) Olympics then for the next Olympics,” he said.
As a council member of the world athletics body IAAF, Sumariwalla condemned the practice of Arab countries using African runners at world meets. He said that since they competed just for the money, it could be termed as “human trafficking”.
“My strong view is that the athletes are bought, used and thrown out by the Arab countries. What they are doing is completely wrong. They are not given citizenship, they are given only residency, given fake passports, on the basis of which they are participating and once they finish they are thrown out. That’s not sport, that’s human trafficking. I am opposed to this practice and have fought it tooth and nail in IAAF (meetings),” he said.
This practice though, according to Sumariwalla, will be abolished soon.
“The waiting period for runners to represent a country has been increased from one to three years. The runners need to be given full citizenship. In places like Qatar, their constitution does not allow that. Either they have to change the constitution or figure out how to include them.”
India clinched eight gold medals at the Asian Games but still suffered as a result of Africans running under the garb of Arabs. “The larger picture is the World Championships and the Olympics where we’ll have to face them (Africans) anyways. So I told them (Indian athletes) to be prepared for that,” he said.