With the performance of many quarter-milers slipping worryingly and with some of the top stars injured, questions are being raised about what is happening at National relay camps held in countries like Poland and the Czech Republic.
For teams billed as capable of winning Olympic medals, the failure to even enter the finals of men's and women's relay (mixed squad made the final, qualified for 2020 Olympics) at the recent Doha Worlds, is seen as a big setback.
Voices have been raised against so much money being spent on these teams. But AFI president Adille Sumariwalla wants everybody to be patient.
“We went very high at the Asian Games, but just one year later, everybody is asking why should we have the relay team.
“Unless you have an eight-to-10-year plan, we can never win,” said Sumariwalla, in a chat with The Hindu here.
“After one setback, if you are going to say, 'oh, let's throw out the relay’, then you're finished. This is the saddest part of Indian sport, we are so short-sighted.
“Poland played at the relay for eight to 12 years. They got hammered, they never qualified, but today they are in the top three to four. So also Belgium.”
However, it is a fact that with many injured and with the timings of many coming down, there is a serious lack of quality 400m runners.
But even the stunning arrival of Haryana's 19-year-old Kiran has not excited many.
She popped up suddenly, shocked this season's fastest quarter-miler Anjali Devi and gave a scare to V.K. Vismaya before taking the silver in the women's 400m here.
Kiran comes from the same stable where Anjali (who was allowed to run only in the individual 400m at the Worlds) was groomed, both are coached by Rohtas Siwach in Rohtak.
And, with the recent doping ban of Haryana's former Asian 400m champion Nirmala Sheoran, the AFI is aware that it needs to do more to tackle the doping menace. “We have absolutely no doubt about it. Before, we may have done a 1000 tests. Do we need to test more? Yes, but the Government has to do that,” he said.
With the new moves that Sumariwalla revealed, it looks like the AFI is on the right path.
Regarding the many injuries which weakened the relay teams, he said, “in sport, you get injuries. This is the problem of depending on one Neeraj Chopra and one Hima Das.”
“Today, the javelin is improving because we have people throwing 80m. Tomorrow, when you have eight women quartermilers running 52s, then you will see how things change completely,” he added.
Sumariwalla was not surprised with shot-putter Tajinderpal Singh and sprinter Dutee Chand peaking days after the Worlds, producing National records here.
“These things happen. Could also be because of the competition and weather conditions,” he said.