AFI advances Inter-State National to meet Asian Games deadline

With the Olympic Council of Asia and the Asian Athletics Association not responding to the Athletics Federation of India’s request to extend the entry deadline for the coming Asian Games, the AFI has now advanced the four-day National inter-State championship from July 15 to the last week of June.

In the men’s 5000m and 10,000m, the qualification standards have been lowered by 20 seconds which comes within Tamil Nadu’s G. Lakshmanan’s range.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

With the Olympic Council of Asia and the Asian Athletics Association not responding to the Athletics Federation of India’s request to extend the entry deadline for the coming Asian Games, the AFI has now advanced the four-day National inter-State championship from July 15 to the last week of June.

There is also a change of venue, from Kolkata, and the championship – the Asian Games qualification – will now be held in Guwahati in Assam from June 26 to 29.

“There was no response from the OCA and AAA and since the last date for sending entries by name for the Asiad (in Jakarta in August) is June 30, we did not want to wait further,” Radhakrishnan Nair, the Deputy Chief National Coach, told Sportstar from Patiala on Sunday after the AFI’s Planning Commission and coaches meeting there.

The AFI has also diluted the entry guidelines in more than 15 events, mostly in the women’s section, from the ones announced in September. Many athletes had complained that the qualification standards were very tough.

In the men’s 5000m and 10,000m, the qualification standards have been lowered by 20 seconds which comes within Tamil Nadu’s G. Lakshmanan’s range. Lakshmanan, a double gold medallist at last year’s Asian Championships in Bhubaneswar, could not qualify for the recent Commonwealth Games.

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“We have done this in distance events because in most of the countries, like Japan and China, they have been training in cold conditions while Jakarta will be very hot during the Asiad,” explained Radhakrishnan.

“Since we are used to hot conditions, we are expecting some good results, that is why we had brought down the guidelines.”

Radhakrishnan also made it clear that the guidelines are for selecting one athlete per event. “If more athletes qualify, the selection committee will decide on a second entry considering the medal chances in the event,” he said. Only two athletes can be entered in an individual event at the Asiad. If nobody qualifies, the selectors may pick the best athlete considering the medal chances.

India can field a maximum of 52 men and 50 women in athletics but the deputy chief coach feels that the team strength would be between 70 and 80.

The AFI has also decided that athletes who are not training in the national camp and who make the qualification grade elsewhere, will have to repeat their performance at the confirmatory trials on August 15.

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