Jaisha, the second Indian participant in the marathon race, stoked a controversy by alleging that Athletics Federation of India officials did not arrange for water and energy drinks during the race under scorching heat, a claim denied by the AFI.
Kavita, who finished 120th in the race with a timing of 2 hrs 59 minutes and 29 seconds, said she has no complaints against the Indian officials.
“I don’t want to be involved in the Jaisha issue. I don’t want to speak about what she said or complained. I will speak for myself and as far as I am concerned I have no issues. It was a normal race for me though I felt thirsty along the way as the race was run under scorching heat,” Kavita said from her home in the west central Indian state of Maharashtra.
“I don’t know at what intervals were the water stations kept. But there were water stations and I felt water, kept along the course of the race, was enough and that was why I completed the race without any problem,” she added.
Jaisha, who fainted at the finish line after completing the race in 89th position, had alleged that there was no water, recovery drinks and refreshment available for her and only once in 8km did she got water. She also said that all the countries had their water and refreshment stations at every 2km but the Indian ones were empty.
Kavita made it clear that she was asked by AFI officials if she would need personalised drinks during the race.
“Yes, I was asked at the team assembly. AFI Secretary (C K Valson), chief coach (Bahadur Singh) and deputy chief coach (Radhakrishnan Nair) came to me a day before the race and asked if I will need these personalised drinks. But I said I am not using the personalised drinks,” said Kavita who qualified for Rio Olympics during the South Asian Games in Guwahati earlier this year.
“I am not not in the habit of using these personalised drinks. It does not suit me. I used to run marathon, say in Mumbai Marathon and during the South Asian Games in Guwahati, by using only the normal water provided by the organisers,” said the 31-year-old runner. “When I train also I don’t use personalised drinks and so it is about habit and I use only normal water.”
Asked if the Indian officials were available after Jaisha fainted at the finish line, Kavita said, “I finished the race 10 minutes after Jaisha. After I completed my race, I went to the changing room and saw Jaisha’s kit bag lying there. I sensed that there could be something. I had doubts thinking whether Jaisha had fallen down after the race.
“Me and Sudha Singh (who competed in 3000m steeplechase event) started searching for Jaisha. We then met chief coach and deputy chief coach and got to know that Jaisha has been given medical treatment and (Jaisha’s personal coach) Nikolai is inside the medical station with her. Sudha and I also accompanied Jaisha to the Games Village polyclinic in an ambulance along with the coaches. “Just as we came to know that Jaisha has been given medical attention, everybody was there, the officials and coaches,” she added.
Jaisha collapsed at the finish line after completing the race and had to be rushed to a hospital (Games Village polyclinic) where her coach Nikolai Snesarev got into an altercation with one of doctors and ended up being detained for half-a-day by local police.
Under the rules, no official of participating countries can enter the field of play without permission from the organisers. Any athlete who suffered any injury or who required any medical treatment inside the field of play will only be attended by the organisers first.
Asked if she had come across empty refreshment stations of India as has been claimed by Jaisha, she said, “I was not going to use the personalise drinks and I was going to run only by using normal water. So, I did not give any attention or thought whether there were such stations specifically meant for India or not. I did not see them.”
Kavita said she had slight fever on August 17, just a day before her departure for home from Rio but
she’s all right now. “I took some medicines from the Games Village polyclinic. I am fine now except for a slight cough,” she signed off.