Guwahati: Indian athletics has suffered due to official apathy, lack of vision and disinterest of general public, it was observed at the 36th National Convention of the Sports Journalists Federation of India (SJFI) on Wednesday.

Many former India athletes such as Bhogeswar Barua, Adille Sumariwalla, Sunil Abraham and Tayabun Nesa spoke at the convention.

The gathering rued that not much has been done to improve the state of sport in the country.

"They have really no genuine concern for the sport. Or for all the gains we have made through the years, Indian athletics could have really made a real impact at the world level by now. Power and pelf are what they are interested at, while the real concern should have been that of the welfare of the athletes," Barua, 800m gold medallist at the 1966 Asian Games in Bangkok, said.

Sumariwalla, former National sprint champion, emphasised the need for the society at large to change its approach towards athletics.

"The crowds are simply not there at any meet held in this country despite the fact the action provides much more thrill than any other sport. Where else, can one witness competitions in more than one event being held simultaneously other than in athletics," he said.

In her address, Tayabun Nesa stressed on the need for the adoption of a sound system to take advantage of modern sports medicine and need of sports education.

"The Government should look seriously into both these aspects if Indian athletics has to go places," she said.

Later in the day, the convention was officially inaugurated by 94-year-od Pulin Das, Assam's first sports journalist.

The daily SJFI newsletter, Guwahati Rocks, was released by Barua as he handed over the first copy to former National table tennis champion, Monalisa Barua-Mehta.

(Agencies)