The decision is said to be taken for a number of reasons including his old age and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Legendary Asian gold medal-winning shot-putter Bahadur Singh will see his two-decade-long stint as the head coach of the Indian athletics teams come to an end, as he’s been denied a contract extension by the Spots Authority of India (SAI).

According to the Times of India, Bahadur will now be working in an ‘advisory role’ for the team due to his enormous experience, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI)’s President Adille Sumariwala has confirmed. The deputy chief coach for Indian Athletics Radhakrishnan Nair is a front-runner to replace the 74-year-old as the head coach of the team.

Moreover, the remaining 13 coaches (foreigners and Indians) who are a part of AFI will see their contracts extended by SAI as well. It’s been said that the AFI faced resistance on this matter from SAI, who wanted Bahadur to get another extension despite his old age.

Bahadur Singh had recently been barred from holding training for the track and athletics team at the NIS Patiala due to SAI making a rule for barring people above 65-years of age from national camps due to the coronavirus situation.

In a statement on their decision, SAI said: “Bahadur Singh’s contract has not been renewed by the Empanel Committee of Coaches, in accordance with the sports ministry’s guidelines with the upper age for employment of coaches and support staff fixed at 70 for national camps.

“The committee consists of members both from the SAI and AFI. The decision was taken jointly considering the guidelines. The same committee has extended the contract of 13 others as recommended by AFI.”

Bahadur Singh’s contract was set to expire in July and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus outbreak played a part in a contract extension being denied to him. Moreover, the dangers of the Covid-19 outbreak on elder citizens is also said to have played a part in this decision.

Sumariwala also spoke on this matter and said: “He has been an outstanding athlete and an excellent coach. He is a Padma Shri, Dronacharya and Arjuna awardee. We have to understand, at his age, it was difficult to extend his contract. But the AFI will engage him in some other capacity with Indian athletics. He could be kept in an advisory capacity for monitoring the training of athletes. He has a tremendous experience as a coach and mentor.”

Bahadur had assumed this role back in 1997 after mentoring the Indian athletics team for the Asian Athletics championship. He’s famous for his heroics for India in the Asian Athletics championship where he won three gold medals in his career. Bahadur’s also a two-time gold medal winner for shot-put in the Asian games, with his glittering career and vast experience being the reason why his presence will be missed for the national Athletics team.

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