IPL 2020: KKR hopes to hit the right strides with Olympic sprinter’s help

Two-time Olympian Chris Donaldson is a part Kolkata Knight Riders’ support staff for IPL 2020 as a strength and conditioning coach.

By Ubaid Parkar

If things go as planned, Kolkata Knight Riders’ players are likely to be the fastest runners between the wickets and the quickest on the field in the Indian Premier League this season.

This is because the IPL cricket team, co-owned by Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, has roped in the services of New Zealand’s former Olympic sprinter Chris Donaldson for this year’s campaign in the UAE.

Donaldson, who participated in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics Games, is KKR’s strength and conditioning coach for IPL 2020.

“From fielding, diving to chasing the ball to the boundary, doing that run out, all these things contribute a major part to the game,” Donaldson told the Hindustan Times. “You can make quite a difference in the first two metres of how you accelerate. It is something we work hard on.”

Chris Donaldson has previously worked with the New Zealand cricket team - for eight years - including during the 2015 World Cup when they finished runners-up.

Brendon McCullum, who was the captain of the New Zealand side back then, is now the head coach of the Kolkata Knight Riders. And it was on his request that Donaldson joined the IPL team.

“When Baz (Brendon McCullum) told me that Chris Donaldson was coming aboard, he spoke very highly of him” KKR team mentor and former cricketer Abhishek Nayar told the team’s website. “So far, I have absolutely enjoyed it.

“There have been some unbelievable workouts he has given everyone to do,” Nayar pointed out. “They are hard, and if you haven’t worked out for a while, you can’t do it... But it’s amazing and very, very helpful for all the boys.”

Who is Chris Donaldson?

Chris Donaldson participated in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta but was out in the heats, placed 42nd in the 100m and 47th in the 200m. At the Sydney Games in 2000, he suffered an Achilles injury and could not compete.

His personal best in the 100m - a 10.17 - was set at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, the only edition incidentally in which cricket was played. He also competed in the 2006 edition in Melbourne.

Former sprinter Chris Donaldson (centre) from New Zealand is a two-time Olympian.

The Auckland-born Chris Donaldson holds the national records in the 200m, something he cherishes, and the 4x100m relay. He is also the oldest athlete, at 32, to claim the 100m title in New Zealand.

Chris’ father is Roger Donaldson, a noted Hollywood film director. His work includes the biopic The World's Fastest Indian starring Sir Anthony Hopkins, who plays New Zealand’s land speed record-chasing bike racer Burt Munro.

KKR will play their first match of IPL 2020 in the UAE against the Mumbai Indians on Wednesday.