AFI parts ways with javelin coach Uwe Hohn, to hire two new coaches

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has parted ways with national javelin coach Uwe Hohn, saying it is “not happy” with his performance and will hire two new foreign coaches soon.

The contract of the 59-year-old German, a former world record holder, was valid till the end of the Tokyo Olympics.

“We are bringing two more coaches, and we are changing Uwe Hohn as we are not happy with his performance. We are looking for a foreign coach for Toor (shot putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor),” said AFI president Adille Sumariwalla on Monday. Sumariwalla was speaking at the end of a two-day executive council meeting.

Hohn was appointed as chief coach in November 2017 for one year to train Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra and two other Tokyo Olympians, Shivpal Singh and Annu Rani.

Chopra was under his tutelage during the Commonwealth, and Asian Games in 2018 before another German, Klaus Bartonietz, took up that role.

Hohn kicked up a storm before the Olympics when he claimed he had been blackmailed by the Sports Authority of India and AFI into accepting his contract. Both bodies had rejected the charge.

A host of issues was discussed in detail during the meeting here, including redesigning the AFI’s junior (grassroots development) programme, the introduction of build-up tournaments for top international events such as the world championships and the Olympics, and radically refurbishing its coaching programme, especially for the juniors.

“To reach the next level, we have to redesign the junior programme, how to do talent identification better to improve it further, we held discussions with athletes and coaches, both former and present athletes from all states,” Sumariwalla said.


Tokyo Olympics: The Hohn influence on Neeraj Chopra

“Athletes need more competitions, this is mainly for seniors to prepare for larger competitions. Next year, we have a tight calendar — with the World Championships, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.

“Athletes need competition in preparatory period so that their bodies remain in good nick. So the plan is to introduce build-up competitions at the zonal level so that athletes don’t have to travel far.”

Open national event in Jamshedpur; focus on grassroots

Going by what the AFI said, the coach education programme is also set to see a complete overhaul in the coming times, with the introduction of a certification course involving the sport’s global governing body, World Athletics.

“We have decided to bring foreign coaches for junior athletes too to strengthen their foundation and basics.

“Apart from inter-district, we have to identify pockets in every state, how to bring them, what should be the parameters…Also, there will be an open national event for the next five years in Jamshedpur.”

“We need experienced coaches who have produced world champions and Olympic champions, with all the latest knowledge. Our coaches will also work alongside the foreign coaches.

“In last one year, we have already developed 650 coaches and 1500 in pre-level across various levels.

On the up-gradation of the coaching programme, he added, “We will start with grassroots as once foundation is strong, elite will automatically get stronger.

“This is a World Athletics course, and they will award the certificates. Those coaches are for our identified events — 400m, walk, javelin, long jump and triple jump.

“There will be a different set of coaches for junior and senior athletes. We have recently identified Kerala, Karnataka, Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana.”

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