AFI: Athletes who skip camps may not get CWG relay berths

While Kerala's Muhammed Anas was in poor form at the Indian Grand Prix in Patiala on Tuesday, Haryana's Nirmala Sheoran is yet to report at the national camp. The two Asian 400m champions led the Indian team to gold at the Asian Championships in Bhubaneswar last July.

Nirmala Sheoran 22nd Asian Athletics Championship 2017

India's Nirmala Sheoran celebrates with the national flag after winning the women's 400m gold in the 22nd Asian Athletics Championship 2017 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has come up with a new strategy to tackle athletes, especially the top quartermilers, who have been skipping national camps.

It is unlikely to include them in the Indian relay teams for the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, in April.

“We will not be including them in the relay team. If they qualify, they can take part in the individual events,” C.K. Valson, the AFI Secretary, told Sportstar on Wednesday. “The relay teams will be announced soon.”

With one Indian relay team or the other being disqualified in every major meet, clearly there is a need to train together and the national body appears to be firm this time. And with Asian women’s 400m champion Nirmala Sheoran virtually untraceable and with the big news of prominent javelin thrower Davinder Singh Kang testing positive coming in, the federation is likely to very cautious and careful.   

The results of Tuesday’s Indian Grand Prix in Patiala where Kerala’s Asian champion Muhammed Anas (personal best 45.32s), who has stayed away from the national camp, finished fifth in his heat with a miserable 51.22s and where internationals like Anilda Thomas and Anu Raghavan were overshadowed by national campers Sonia Baishya (West Bengal) and Sarita Ben Gayakwad (Gujarat) could further strengthen the AFI’s hands.

Despite the AFI shifting the quartermilers’ national camp from Patiala to Thiruvananthapuram where Anas, Anilda and Anu train, the trio trained separately under Kerala Sports Council coach P.B. Jaikumar.

Jaikumar explained that his athletes could not settle down to the conditions in Patiala during the Indian Grand Prix as the weather back home in Thiruvananthapuram was very hot.

“We will be back to form at the Federation Cup (which begins in Patiala on March 5),” said Jaikumar from Patiala. “I had asked my athletes to join the national camp earlier but they wanted to train with me.”

Meanwhile, another Kerala quartermiler, the National inter-university silver medallist V.K. Vismaya is expected to run in the Federation Cup and also join the national camp which has now moved to Patiala.