With meets under doubt, AFI working on internal competitions

AFI president Adille Sumariwalla reveals that the Chennai national, scheduled for September 20 to 25, is doubtful amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adille Sumariwalla

AFI president Adille Sumariwalla said that the Chennai national, scheduled for September 20 to 25, is doubtful.   -  GETTY IMAGES


With its scheduled September 12 start to the competition season looking doubtful, the Athletics Federation of India is working on other options to keep athletes in shape.

“It (September 12 start) looks difficult. But there will be some internal trials, some internal competition among the campers in Patiala and Bengaluru,” said Adille Sumariwalla, the President of the AFI, in a chat with Sportstar.

“And if there are other javelin throwers, shot putters or discus throwers in that area, if they are allowed to travel, then they will be allowed if the Government allows them.”

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The AFI has scheduled its season-opening Indian Grand Prix in Patiala on September 12 and this will be followed by the National Open in Chennai (September 20-25) and the Federation Cup (Patiala, from October 6).

Chennai national doubtful

“The Chennai national looks doubtful, I don't think the state government is going to allow that. If trains are not going to start, how are people going to come?

“But definitely, we will have internal competitions in Patiala. And for walkers in Bengaluru because they are there.”

Sumariwalla feels that even if this year's competitions are cancelled owing to the coronavirus pandemic, it will not be tough for Indian athletes to qualify for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

“Most of the people who had to qualify have already qualified. The rest have enough time to qualify (from March when the AFI plans to start its 2021 season till June 29).”

Focus on relays

He also felt that long jumper Sreeshankar, sprinter Dutee Chand and shot putter Tajinderpal Singh could compete in indoor meets and qualify. But he wants the quartermilers to focus on the relays.

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“Hima Das will not qualify in the 400m but she has already qualified in the relay. It will be tough (for anybody) to qualify in the 400m but I would prefer that they focus on the relay at the Olympic level because now they have two relays (mixed and men or women). The pressure will be tremendous if they run they run the 400 too,” he said.

“They may qualify (in 400m) but does that help the Indian team? If they are good, they may come to the semifinal, then what? Are they running 49s, no. Are they running 44s and below (in men's), no.

“So, they will run two rounds in the 400m and then spoil the relay.”

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