25-year-old Sajeev from Venjaramood in Thiruvananthapuram has never worn shoes to train.

No barefeet running for this Kerala mason as athletic meet organiser denies permission
news Sports Thursday, June 29, 2017 - 19:42

A mason’s dream to race in the State Senior Athletic Championship in Kerala was dashed when he was not allowed to participate for not wearing shoes. 

25-year-old Sajeev from Venjaramood in Thiruvananthapuram has never worn shoes to train. Used to training barefeet on the roads of his village Poovathur, Sajeev does not know any other way to run. 

“I am not comfortable wearing shoes. My best performance don’t come out when I wear shoes. I practice barefeet on the roads in my village. I was not aware that there is rule that prevents athlete from taking part in a race if they do not wear shoes,” Sajeev told The NewsMinute.

He appeared embarrassed admitting he was not aware of the rules saying that it was the first time he had seen a synthetic track. 

His passion for racing began two years ago but he underwent professional training only six months ago. 

The meet was held on a synthetic track of Central Stadium, Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday and Wednesday. Sajeev had participated in the 10,000 meter race on Tuesday. He had worn shoes while participating in the race. 

His coach Ansar Nilamel said that he hadn’t expected that Sajeev would be denied permission to participate for not wearing shoes. “If the Association is so keen that they do everything as per rules then why did they conduct the competitions in heavy rain.  I don’t blame them as they need to follow the rules. But I didn’t expect this,” he said.

Sajeev finished seventh in the 10,000 meter race. “He is hailing from a poor family. There were no circumstances for training when he was young. But he finished seventh while competing with athletes of national standard. Since the meet is a selection process to the national athletic meet he won’t be able to contest in the national level as he was not allowed to take part in 5,000 meter race,” Ansar said.

Sajeev was the winner in the 1,500 meter race of the athletic meet held as a part of the Keraloththsavam in December 2016. “But the association people did not inform him that he was selected for the state meet,” Ansar said.

However, Babu PI, secretary Association said that they follow the rules not to prevent athletes from taking part but to avoid injury. “They will get injured if they don’t wear shoes on synthetic track. It is not intentional to keep away athletes. They should be trained wearing shoes,” he said.

“We did not violate rules in conducting race on synthetic track during rain. Events can be postponed during rain on normal track as the track gets damaged in rain,” Babu said. 

An expert on sports, who preferred anonymity said, “The coach is to be blamed. He should have instructed the athlete about the rules and trained to race in shoes. On synthetic track nobody is even allowed to walk without shoes.” 

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