Kottayam: The Jumps Academy, Pala, which has produced some of the country’s finest pole vaulters, is in a state of neglect.
Lack of maintenance has corroded the facilities at the academy badly, epitomizing the pathetic state of affairs in sports administration in the state.
The pole vault bed is worn out as a result of rough use over the years. What is worse, in order to attempt a jump during training, the athletes are forced to pick up the torn pieces of the mattress and put them together! After each fall, they ‘disappear’ for some seconds in the hollow air cushioning and the scattered pieces of the fiber foam.
Despite striving hard to do their country proud, these talented youngsters continue to silently bear the fact that they are hardly given any recognition for their efforts. As they know their fate is in God’s hands, before each jump, these athletes pray vehemently to save them from injuries.
The poor condition of the spike resistant mattress has hampered the functioning of the academy, which has produced 10 gold medals in various national meets including six records during the 2017-18 season.
As only a month is left for the Federation Cup Senior National Athletics Meet, which will serve as selection trials for the Commonwealth and Asian Games, many pole vaulters including former national record holder K P Bimin are finding it difficult to train properly due to the dilapidated state of the landing pad.
Recently, C Anaswara, who has won several medals for Calicut University in inter-university championships, suffered a serious ligament injury after tripping on a tattered portion of the mattress. A surgery has forced her out of all competitions so far this season.
Though the Kerala State Sports Council had promised a jumping pit to the academy long back, that proposal ran into a tangle of red-tape and bureaucratic hurdles.
Many national-level pole vaulters including Indian Railways’ star performer Bipin Paul, national junior champion Jessan George, and national junior No. 2 Nivya Antony among other proven performances of departmental teams are currently training on this ruined bed which was procured around eight years ago.
The trainees thank their lucky stars for saving them from picking up any injury after landing from such heights on the torn air cushioning and its spilled sponge and fiber contents.
Though the Academy’s proposal seeking fiber poles and a landing bed, which costs around Rs 7-8 lakh, had been approved by the Sports Council executive committee long back, it still remains on paper.
Now the office-bearers of the Academy and trainees are hoping for the intervention of the Sports Department and the Council to save them from the sorry state of affairs.
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