It is shocking but not surprising to read about how an under-construction road is going to eat into the warm-up area of the University stadium ground at Marine Lines. Yesterday, this paper ran a front-page report (‘Road to Wankhede eats into athletes’ warm-up area’)on a supposedly ‘mystery’ road, which no authority claims to know of, coming up at the University ground. This road is supposed to lead into one of the gates of Wankhede Stadium.
What this means is that the road has eaten into the traditional warm-up zone, which is already small, reducing it to practically nothing. At the same time, University authorities are re-laying the running track with a top class synthetic track.
This shows that despite all efforts to up India’s medals tally in the Olympics, cricket is still the favoured sport, a slice of Mumbai’s most well-known running ground actually being given away for easier access to a cricket stadium is proof of this. City athletes have very few grounds to train on. Mumbai has seen its superiority in sports like swimming and cycling (the city’s only velodrome vanished a couple of years ago) slip away due to a number of factors, prime amongst which is insufficient training facilities.
The University ground is like a nursery for city athletes of all levels, one reason being its easy accessibility by public transport. It is reprehensible that a road would be allowed to cut into whatever little space there is. University officials need to do some soul-searching. If we allow the scarce training grounds to be gobbled up, while touting about how the country is now giving a push to sports not cricket, we are hypocrites expecting medals without giving sportspeople the grounds to train on.