The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has announced the end of its association with national chief javelin coach Uwe Hohn, saying it is “not happy" with his performance. The AFI said it will hire two new coaches soon.
The move came just months after Neeraj Chopra won a historic gold in javelin throw under Hohn’s tutelage.
“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 (Tajinderpal Singh) Toor,” said AFI president Adille Sumariwalla in a press conference.
Sumariwalla said that the below-expectations performance of Shivpal Singh and Annu Rani in the Olympics was due to Hohn’s poor performance as the chief coach. The press conference was held at the end of a two-day executive meeting of the sports body and was attended by AFI planning committee chairman Lalit K Bhanot and vice-president Anju Bobby George as well.
Hohn had been hired in 2017. The German is one of the most well-known athletes of his time and is the only man to have thrown the javelin over 100 metres. A record he created in 1984 that remains one of the most extraordinary sporting achievements.
Hohn was Neeraj Chopra’s coach in 2018 when he managed to clinch the top spot in his sport at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. Hohn was also the national javelin coach for India in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics though Chopra was training under Klaus Bartonietz, the biomechanical expert and fellow coach.
“The time I spent with coach Hohn, I believe, was good and I respect him. In that year (2018), I won gold at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. I thought that his (Hohn’s) training style and technique were a bit different. Later, when I trained with Klaus, I felt his training plan suited me,” Chopra had said.
But Hohn’s association with AFI has not been a pleasant one. He had said that it was difficult to work with the Indian authorities in the AFI and the overall governing body for sports in India, the Sports Authority of India.
“When I came here, I thought I could change something but it’s probably too difficult with these people at SAI or AFI. I don’t know if it’s a lack of knowledge or ignorance. Besides camps or competitions, even when we ask via our nutritionist for supplements for our athletes, we don’t get the right stuff. Not even for TOPS (Target Olympic Podium Scheme) athletes – medal contenders handpicked by the Sports Ministry. If we get something, we are very happy,” Hohn had told the Indian Express.
Hohn also alleged that the AFI had essentially blackmailed him into his current contract, which was signed in April.
AFI has been embroiled in a few controversies after Neeraj Chopra’s historic win at Tokyo Olympics. Take the case of Kashinath Naik, Chopra’s coach between 2015 to 2017. After reports of Chopra’s growth under Naik in his early years, Sumariwalla had said that he had never heard of Naik and had no information about any association between Naik and Chopra. Things turned out differently when Chopra met Naik at his residence in Pune after his gold medal win.
Sumariwalla was also criticised on social media after he had posted detailed information regarding the cost borne on training Chopra for his Olympic journey. Twitter users had questioned the need of sharing such information and why the expenses for other athletes who had not succeeded were not shared by the chief of the AFI.