The 59-year-old German javelin throw legend Uwe Hohn has been reportedly sacked by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI).
Uwe Hohn was hired back in 2017 to coach the Indian Olympic star, Neeraj Chopra. Hohn is a former Javelin star himself and is the only athlete to throw over 100 meters. Hohn coached Chopra in his success at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games in 2018 and later on stayed as the national javelin coach for the Tokyo Olympics.
Although Klaus Bartonietz, the biomechanical professional who coached Chopra when he won the Olympic gold will retain his position. The AFI president Adille Sumariwalla announced after a performance review of athletes and coaches at the two-day executive council meeting that Hohn was being “sent home”.
“We are changing Uwe Hohn. His performance is not good. We will bring two (new) coaches. We are doing what we have to do. Those who think that analysis is not happening and action is not being taken… everything is being done,” Sumariwalla said.
AFI planning commission chief Lalit K Bhanot continued that the javelin throwers which include Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Chopra, Shivpal Singh, and Annu Rani do not wish to further continue with Hohn. “Dr. Klaus (Bartonietz) will continue to coach as (bio-mechanical) expert. We want two more coaches for javelin. It is not easy to get good coaches. But we are trying our best to get at least one more good coach,” he said.
When questioned about the poor performances of Shivpal and Annu along with discus thrower Seema Antil and shot putter Tajinder Singh Toor, the AFI president said, “It is very simple. Shivpal and Annu were with Uwe Hohn. Uwe Hohn is being sent home. We are also looking for a foreign coach for Toor.”
Chopra trained with Bartonietz for the Tokyo Games, but he credited Hohn for coaching him to two important gold medals. “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 said after winning the Olympic gold.
Criticizing the Olympic preparations a few months ago Hohn said, it was “difficult to work with these people”
Speaking about his spell in India, Hohn had told The Indian Express, “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 also questioned the authorities for supposedly going back on their word on his agreement. “I’m not happy with the new contract I signed at the beginning of April. We (he and Bartonietz) got blackmailed into signing it, otherwise, we wouldn’t have got paid anymore. They said they would review our coaching in April and then increase our salaries. Like all promises before, these were only empty words,” he said.