National Athletics Meet to Begin Sans Top Stars, AFI says NADA Dope Collectors Coming on Time
Dutee Chand and Arpinder Singh are eyeing World Championships qualifications at the National Inter-State Athletics Meet.
A general view of an athletics track. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Lucknow: Some of India's top stars will be giving it a miss as the 59th National Inter-State Athletics Championships begin here on Tuesday with the likes of sprinter Dutee Chand and triple jumper Arpinder Singh eying World Championships qualifications.
The World Championships will be held in Doha next month.
Most of the athletes who are currently training in Europe have decided to skip the event. They include the likes sprint sensation Hima Das, Asian champion shot putter Tejinder Pal Singh Toor, javelin throwers Shivpal Singh and Annu Rani and top male quartermiler Mohammed Anas (in individual 400m event).
Anas will, however, run in the men's 4x400m relay race with the other national team members as the country seeks to make sure it qualifies in the event for the World Championships.
"The men's 4x400m relay team is now ranked 15th in the world and only the top 16 will qualify for the World Championships. So we cannot missed out and the the national top quartet, including Anas, will run in the men's 4x400m relay race in the meet. There will be at least three teams in the race," AFI Secretary C K Valson told PTI.
Star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra is recovering from the elbow surgery he underwent earlier this year.
Despite the recent suspension of accreditation of National Dope Testing Laboratory where the samples of Indian athletes were tested earlier, the NADA's Dope Control Officers are reaching on Tuesday, according to the organisers.
"NADA dope collectors are reaching at 8 am tomorrow," Uttar Pradesh Athletics Association secretary and AFI treasurer P K Srivastava said.
Valson also said the federation got a letter from NADA that six Dope Control Officers will come for dope sample collection.
Hima, who has recently won six gold in Europe, albeit in mediocre fields, is yet to qualify in her pet 400m event or 200m for the September 28 to October 6 World Championships. Toor (area champion), Anas, Shivpal and Annu have already qualified.
Hima's name has been entered in both 200m and 400m from Assam but sources said she is not returning from Czech Republic to run in this championship.
Dutee, the reigning World Universiade 100m dash champion, is also yet to qualify but she is likely to make the cut for the World Championships even if she fails to touch the qualifying standard.
The number of women's 100m runners in the World Championships is four and she currently stands at 40th position in the world list.
National record holder in long jump, Murali Sreeshankar, who has already qualified for the Worlds, is among the star attractions in this championships.
The Athletics Federation of India had announced that the four-day meet will be the qualifying event for the World Championships selection, but still a lot of stars have been given exemption, taking some sheen out of the tournament.
The Worlds qualification period is till the midnight of September 6.
On the first day, the women's 200m and the men's 5000m races could provide the fireworks at the PAC Stadium. Though as many as nine finals are scheduled on the day, these two events could hold maximum interest.
Dutee's decision to focus on the 100m will leave the 200m field open for the likes of Tamil Nadu's Archana Suseendran and V Revathi to battle with Odisha runner Srabani Nanda.
Archana, the fastest Indian over the distance this year, will lead their bid to stop the clock inside 23.02 seconds, the World Championships qualifying mark.
Archana, who clocked 23.18 seconds in the Indian Grand Prix V in Patiala on August 16, could face stiff competition from Srabani Nanda, who has trained overseas for a while and has a year's best of 23.53 seconds, clocked in Kingston, Jamaica, on June 22.
Navjeet Kaur Dhillon is likely to attract most attention in the women's discus throw competition on Tuesday. The Punjab thrower will be looking to improve on her year's best show of 57.47m achieved in April in the Asian Championships in Doha. With Kamalpreet Kaur, the only Indian who has thrown beyond 60m not competing, West Bengal's Suravi Biswas will have to challenge Navjeet Dhillon.
Of the two men's finals scheduled for Tuesday, the 5000m could be the most interesting event to watch. The entry list boasts of intense competitors like G Lakshmanan (Tamil Nadu) and Gavit Murli Kumar (Gujarat) -- both will be out to regain their spot in the national camp -- Maharashtra's Kalidas Hirave and Kisan Tadvi.
The meet, originally slated to be held in Kolkata in July, was rescheduled after the West Bengal Athletics Association expressed its inability to host it.
Men's: 5000m and Pole Vault.
Women's 200m; 5000m; Discus Throw; Hammer Throw; High Jump; and 20km race walk, Mixed 4x400m relay.
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