Nikolai Snesarev, acclaimed coach of India’s women distance stars, dies

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Coach Nikolai Snesarev, the robust taskmaster credited for the success of women distance runners on the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou and the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, handed away in his room on the National Institute of Sports in Patiala on Friday. He was 72.

Snesarev first coached Indian athletes in 2005 and his proudest second got here 5 years later when Preeja Sreedharan and Kavita Raut received gold and silver respectively within the 10,000 metres and Sudha Singh took the steeplechase gold at Guangzhou. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Lalitha Babar, additionally skilled by Snesarev, reached the ultimate of the steeplechase, a primary for an Indian observe athlete since PT Usha 32 years earlier.

“We are stunned by the news that coach Nikolai was found dead in his room today. He returned to India only a few days ago, having agreed to train steeplechaser Avinash Sable for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. We will cherish his long association with Indian athletics and will miss him,” Athletics Federation of India president Adille Sumariwala stated.

Tough love

Only these prepared for the grind have been capable of prepare with the person from Minsk, Belarus. He acquired Indian athletes to stay to a boiled-vegetable-and-chicken-soup weight-reduction plan, informed them to quick on their weekly off until dinner, rationed cell phone utilization to 1 or two calls every week, requested them to shun dietary supplements, and made them prepare until they have been able to fall. His phrase was remaining, as Raut attested.

“After I won bronze in the 10,000 metres at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, he didn’t allow me to leave the camp. It was a huge moment for me and the country. I was being invited for many felicitation functions. One organiser was even ready to fly me up and down in a helicopter. But Nikolai sir said nothing doing. He told me ‘this is not the time to celebrate this medal because if you do, you will lose focus and time’. A few months later, I won a silver at the Asian Games. Every single medal I have achieved from 2006 to 2014 is because of him. Without his coaching and care, there would be no success for me,” Raut stated on Friday.

Most athletes accepted the robust love as a result of it got here with the assure of a global medal. Moreover, Snesarev put in as a lot effort because the athletes he skilled.

“When we travelled for training or competition, Nikolai sir would put our shoes and training equipment into our bags. They were heavy but he lugged our bags on his shoulders. Even if we had to travel by autorickshaw or bus he would carry the bags,” Raut stated.

Even after an athlete had moved on, Snesarev stored in contact. When he met Raut’s husband for the primary time in 2015, Snesarev spoke like a father who had given his daughter’s hand in marriage.

“He told my husband, ‘I looked after her and took care of her for 10 years. I was like her mother and father. Now you have to look after her as well as I did’. When I became a mother three years ago, he would message on Facebook to enquire about how me and my child were doing,” Raut stated.

Attention to element

Snesarev, Raut believed, was coach, nutritionist and life coach rolled into one. Every morsel of meals the athletes ate and each sip they took needed to be cleared by him. “He would not allow us to even have a recovery drink after a training session. He wanted us to consume only things that were natural. So he would mix lemon juice, a little honey and warm water and give it to us at the ground. He would taste it first and then give it to us,” she recalled.

Athletes Snesarev skilled needed to get used to aches and pains as a result of any type of painkillers or permitted medicines have been banned. “He felt if we took any sort of medication, it would slow down our recovery. He wanted us to consume natural substances. Everything we ate had to be made in front of him or after being cleared by him. Boiled fish, boiled chicken without any spices and boiled vegetables, and a soup is what he made us eat every day. Only a little salt was allowed. It was not easy to train under him, but it was rewarding. And he really cared about the well-being of the athletes he trained.”

No cheat days have been allowed. On Sunday, a weekly off, which adopted a heavy day of coaching, athletes needed to quick until late night. “His theory was that fasting would help us recover faster,” Raut says.

Athletes had little or no contact with the skin world and have been largely confined to their coaching venue and place of keep. “We had to hand over our mobile phones to him and were allowed to use them only to make essential calls, that too during an allotted period,” Raut added.

Like Raut, Sudha too was shocked to listen to concerning the demise of the coach who guided her to Asian Games glory.
“From A to Z, he did everything for us. He fought for five-star accommodation for us when we travelled, comfortable travel. He put our needs before his. Athletes were his priority. In return, he demanded complete dedication. You could come five minutes early for practice but if you were a minute late, then life could get tough,” she stated.

Sudha, scheduled to compete in a marathon in New Delhi on Sunday, was wanting ahead to catching up with Snesarev. “We chatted briefly after he came to India recently. For me and other athletes like Kavita and Preeja, he was like a supreme guru. To attain blessings of a guru you have to make sacrifices but every one of them is worth it.”

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