Athletics Federation of India have initiated two training programmes- one at Spala in Poland for Indian quarter milers and the other in Bhutan for middle and long distance runners- as part of preparation for the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia.
A 14-member Indian athletics contingent comprising of 400m specialists (men and women) is undergoing an intensive five-week training at Spala in Poland. They will be returning to India on 20th June 2018 after which they are expected to participate in the National Inter-State Athletics Championship to be held in Guwahati.
The team at Spala include Rajiv Arokia, Ayyaswamy Dharun, Jithu Baby, P Kundu Muhammed, Muhammed Anas Yahiya, T Santosh Kumar, Hima Das, Nithyashree A, MR Poovamma, Sarita Gayakwad, Sonia Baishya, VK Vismaya and Debashree Majumdar.
A second batch comprising of 17 athletes, along with three coaches and a masseur, is training at Thimphu Track and Field Centre in Bhutan from 21st May 2018. The team include Sudha Singh, PU Chitra, L Suriya, Lakshmanan Govindan, Gopi Thonakal, Ajoy Kumar Saroj, Jinson Johnson, Arjun Kumar, Durga Bahadur Budha, Jeeva Satran Ashokan, Kalidas Laxman Hirave, Pradeep Singh Chaudhary, Sahil Thakaran, Ankit, Chinta Yadav, Meenu and Jhuma Khatun.
Though Bhutan has no athletics credentials, still AFI have chosen the country for the training programme. The fact being, Thimpu is located at a height of more than 2500m that is suitable for high-altitude training. AFI President Adille Sumariwalla said, “Bhutan is a friendly country, in our neighbourhood and Indian officials have helped them some years back in laying the synthetic track. Moreover, the cost of staying and training there is less as compared to training in any other country.”
High-altitude training is important for middle and long-distance runners because due to the presence of less oxygen molecules per volume of air, human body produces erythropoietin hormones that triggers the production of more red blood cells to aid in oxygen delivery to the muscles. This presence of more red blood cells in the bod helps the athletes to take advantage of their changed physiology when they enter into competitions at lower elevations.