Contradicting marathon runner OP Jaisha's claim of official apathy in the Rio Olympics, co-runner Kavita Raut on Tuesday said that the Athletics Federation of Indian (AFI) had provided her with an option of having energy drinks during the race and, therefore, she has no complaints against the apex body.
"The Athletics Federation of Indian (AFI) had offered to provide personalised drinks ahead of the marathon, but I had refused. I am speaking only about myself. I refused because I am not used to take glucose or honey while running. I only take water. That is why I refused to avail personalised drink during the marathon. AFI provided all facilities and, therefore, I have no complaints against them," Kavita told ANI.
Jaisha, who fainted at the end of gruelling race at the just-concluded Rio Olympics, alleged that she neither received water nor energy drinks at refreshment points from the Indian officials during her marathon event under blistering heat.
"Even in a local marathon (42km), there is adequate availability of refreshments and water, which is extremely important. Not a single Indian official was present at designated points to provide refreshments and water to runners. Special arrangements were made for runners from all other nations who participated. I don't know what they (Indian officials) were thinking," a distraught Jaisha had said.
"Running that distance, in that heat, you need so much water. There is a common water point after 8 km, but you need water after each kilometre. Other athletes were getting food along the way but I got nothing," added the 33-year-old Kerala-born athlete, who currently holds the national record in marathon.
While accusing the Indian authorities of showing partiality towards the long-distance runners, the veteran athlete, who finished 89th in Rio Olympics women's marathon event with a timing of 2:47:19, insisted that she would have made a better finish had she received water and refreshments on time.
According to rules, India could have assigned four officials at four points in addition to the official stations to provide water and refreshments but Jaisha had to rely on the latter which was placed about 8 km apart.
The AFI, however, had countered Jaisha's charges about official apathy and callousness in the prestigious quadrennial games, saying the athlete and her coach themselves refused to avail the option of having personalised drinks during the race.
The AFI further insisted that Jaisha and Raut had said that they would use the drinks available at the water booth and refreshment booth provided by the organisers in case they needed.
According to reports, as per the rule, Indian team manager carried 16 empty bottles, eight each for Jaisha and Raut and visited the duo and their coach Nikolai Snesarev on the eve of the women's marathon race. He provided them with the choice of personalised drink which would then be sealed in their presence and handed over to the organisers for installing them on the booth along with a placard as per the requirement of the athlete.