Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju took to social media to express grief over the passing away of Nikolai Snesarev at the Netaji Subhash National Institute of Sports in Patiala on Friday.
“I’m deeply saddened to learn about the sad demise of middle and long-distance running coach Nikolai Snesarev. He has been a great coach and helped many medal winners during his association with India since 2005. My condolences to his family and the entire athletics fraternity,” Rijiju tweeted.
“The 72-year-old Belarussian national died with his boots on, having overseen his wards’ training this morning,” AFI said in a statement.
“AFI is deeply shocked to learn about the sudden demise of the recently-appointed middle-long distance coach Dr. Nikolai Snesarev in Patiala,” said Sumariwalla in a statement.
“It’s a natural death as per the doctor’s report. The police has been informed,” said Sandip Pradhan, Director general of the Sports Authority of India in New Delhi in a statement.
“We are stunned by the news that coach Nikolai was found dead in his room on Friday. He returned to India only a few days ago, having agreed to train steeplechase runner Avinash Sable for the Tokyo Olympic Games. We will cherish his long association with Indian athletics and will miss him,” Sumariwalla, a former multiple national sprint champion, said.
Sumariwalla said India was fortunate to have benefitted from Snesarev’s rich experience for a number of years.
“He was a hard-taskmaster and one who developed his own training routines for his athletes. He was highly respected in the international circles and we were privileged that he shared a wonderful relationship with India,” he said.
PT Usha was the first to enter the final of 400m hurdles in 1984 Olympics.
“As someone who believed in research, he showed us the way with his pioneering efforts towards improving the endurance and speed of his athletes. He insisted that athletes never touch any medicines while training with him, imposing a blanket ban on all kinds of medication, even prescribed ones,” said Sumariwalla.
Hima Das too took to social media to mourn the passing of Nikolai Snesarev.
“Deeply saddened to know about the demise of our middle and long distance running coach Nikolai Snesarev, who has been always a loving coach in our camp and a great human being. My heartfelt condolences to his family. We all will miss him,” Hima Das tweeted.
Neeraj Chopra, who has bettered his own national record with an 88.07-metre throw at the Indian Grand Prix, tweeted: “RIP”.
Having first come to India in 2005, Snesarev coached 10,000m runners Preeja Sreedharan and Kavita Raut to a 1-2 finish in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou and steeplechaser Sudha Singh to gold. It was the first time that Indian women won medals in the 25-lap race.
Later that year, he suggested to Lalita Babar to shift to steeplechase. His sustained efforts saw Lalita become the first Indian athlete to reach a track final in the 2016 Olympic Games.
(With inputs from IANS)