A controversy arose after The Athletics Federation of India‘s chief Adille Sumariwalla said that he had never heard of Kashinath Naik, since he had recently been rewarded 10 lakh by the Karnataka government for coaching Neeraj Chopra.
Naik soon hit back, stating that he was Chopra’s coach, and that the gold medallist was in fact his student. “I am surprised at Sumariwalla’s statement. I have coached Neeraj Chopra between 2015 and 2017. I had gone to Poland as an assistant coach to Neeraj Chopra. Gary Calvert was the head coach,” said Naik to the Indian Express.
Naik asserted that Neeraj was his student, further stating that he had spotted Neeraj first in a competition at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala. Naik comes from a small town in Uttara Kannada district, and is a bronze medallist from the 2010 Commonwealth Games. He has also represented the country in various international events.
“I Spoke to Neeraj Chopra on the Phone About the Controversy,” Kashinath Naik
Naik said that he had spoken to Chopra on the phone about this issue. “I spoke to Neeraj on phone about the controversy and he said he will talk to me later since he is busy with other events and promised that he would discuss the issue with Sumariwalla. I am waiting for Neeraj’s call,” Naik added.
The official Olympics site mentions that Chopra is coached by the legendary Uwe Hon along with Klaus Bartonietz, Gary Calvert, Werner Daniels, Kashinath Naik, Naseem Ahmad and Jaiveer Singh. It says that Neeraj was guided and mentored by Naik.
Speaking about the AFI and Adille Sumariwalla, Naik said that he had met the chief before, and they had met several times before where Sumariwalla had chaired meetings ever since he was president.
Sumariwalla quoted to the Indian Express, “I am awaiting an official announcement order from the Karnataka government. Once I get it, the federation will challenge this. All those who talked to Neeraj Chopra cannot be considered coaches. Neeraj Chopra never said Kashinath was his coach, I don’t know who Kashinath is.”