By Philem Dipak Singh
The controversy stoked by marathon runner O P Jaisha took an interesting turn with her personal coach Nikolai Snesarev on Thursday asserting that she herself had said no when asked by him if she would need personalised refreshment during the race in the Rio Olympics.
Belarusian Nikolai said he had told the Indian athletics officials after "clarifying" from her that she will not need personalised refreshment during the race.
National record holder Jaisha had alleged that Athletics Federation of India officials did not arrange for water and energy drinks during the race under scorching heat and due to which she nearly died while running, a claim denied by the AFI.
Nikolai said that Jaisha had never used personalised drinks during marathon competitions and she said a clear no when asked by him whether she would need them in Rio.
"A day before the race, Radhakrishnan Nair (deputy chief coach) asked me whether she (Jaisha) would need individual refreshment or drinks for the race. I asked Jaisha whether she will use personalised drinks or normal water provided by organisers. She said she will use normal water only. Then I told Nair that she will not need personalised refreshment and she would prefer pure water. That is it," Nikolai told PTI from the SAI Centre in Bengaluru where he is currently based.
"Jaisha had never used individual drinks during competitions from the beginning of her Olympics preparations and she had run with only normal water. She used only normal water provided by organisers during the World Championships in Beijing in August last year. The whole of 2016, Jaisha did not use personalised drinks during competitions," he added.
"But for clarity, as I wanted to clarify from Jaisha, I asked her whether she will need individual drinks or run with normal water in Rio. She said she will run only with normal water provided by the organisers," said the experienced coach.