The strain of an Olympic marathon run became even greater for athlete O.P Jaisha. The runner who had finished 18th at the Beijing Worlds last year with a timing of 2:33:43, crossed the finish line  at Rio in 2 hours, 47 minutes and 19 seconds, but fainted soon after and then remained unconscious for almost 3 hours. The question that was asked of course was she did not perform her best? But instead the question should be posed to the Indian officials and staff who were present at Rio, as to why they did not aid the current national record holder in marathon while she was running, in fact no one was there to provide even water.

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In an interview with Times Of India  Jaisha stated, “Though there were officials from all other countries to provide refreshments to their runners at designated points -after every 2.5 km -there was no one from India and our desks were empty next to the country’s name and flag.”

“I don’t know how I managed to finish without getting enough water to drink. The organizers provided water and sponge only at 8-km intervals. The water from these stations lasted hardly 500m and it was almost impossible to run after the 30-km mark under the scorching sun,” describes the runner.

A visibly distressed Jaisha further said “While other athletes had the luxury of taking glucose, honey etc there was nothing for us (Jaisha and Kavita, the other participant ) to drink at our stations. Not even water,”

According to Jaisha even after she collapsed at the finish line no help came from the Indian Officials. “They injected seven bottles of glucose to help me recover. I didn’t see any doctor from our contingent while help came from fellow marathon runner Gopi T and coach Radhakrishnan Nair. Coach Nikolai was also there for few hours before he was taken away by the organizers,” she said.

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Not only Jaisha has to go through such traumatic experience at the Olympics, she later disclosed to the press that she wasn’t ready to run in the marathon. “I wanted to qualify in the 1500m (after the Mumbai marathon) but the coach forced me to continue in marathon,” she said.

“Even when I suffered an injury during the training period the coach didn’t give me time to recover. Moreover, we always trained early in the morning, first in Ooty and later in Rio. So, it was tough to adjust to the heat here,” she added.

Our athletes work hard and spend months training to perform at the world stage. The least the officials can do is offer adequate support, right?

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