AFI names 25-member India squad for IAAF World C’ships

Injured Arokia Rajiv misses out; a decision on javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra is deferred for a later date.

India will have high hopes from 19-year-old long jumper M. Sreeshankar.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

The Athletics Federation of India refrained from naming everyone who had achieved a qualification mark, dropped the ones battling known injuries, and scheduled confirmatory trials for non-campers while naming a modest 25-member contingent for the IAAF World Championships to be held in Doha later this month, including the relay squads.

The AFI selection committee meeting that went for more than three hours here on Monday, saw the federation also approve, in principle, the inclusion of sprinters Dutee Chand (100m) and Archana Suseentran (200m) and high jumper Tejaswin Shankar, subject to invitation from the IAAF based on their world rankings.

Sreeshankar - a big hope

Among the expected names in the side are 1500m runner Jinson Johnson, who recently set a new national record — the second time in recent months — en route to qualifying for the Worlds, and 19-year long jumper Murali Sreeshankar, who was the first to qualify for the big event in September last year. Having recovered from a recurring heel injury that kept him away from the Asian Championships, Sreeshankar recently touched the 8m mark and is expected to be among the big hopes for the federation.

The biggest hope for the federation, however, remain the three 4x400m relay teams — men, women and mixed — despite all of them bringing up the rear at the World Relays in Yokohama in May with disappointing timings. The AFI, in fact, hoped they would finish among the top eight sides in an attempt to get a direct qualification for the 2020 Olympics.

‘Well-prepared’

“We have invested a lot of time in the 400m runners, getting them to train under coach Galina Bukharina. We believe the squad has been well-prepared to deliver the best results on the World stage,” AFI president Adille Sumariwalla said.

Read | Neeraj: It was not easy staying patient during rehab

Alex Anthony, who pulled his hamstring during the third leg at the Inter-State Championships two weeks ago has been named in the relay side while the selectors have dropped Dharun Ayyasamy for the 400m hurdles despite achieving the qualifying mark. AFI officials said they wanted to concentrate on the relay and did not want to strain Dharun, also returning from rehabilitation, with two equally strenuous events.

Also missing out is Arokia Rajiv, yet to recover from his ankle injury, while a decision on javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra — the Asian champion — was deferred for a later date. Chopra, who underwent an elbow surgery in May, has only recently started training and was expected to be excluded but the AFI’s decision not to take a final call on him raises hopes.

Among the women, quartermiler Anjali Devi would have to undergo a confirmatory trial on September 21 at Patiala despite having achieved the qualifying mark twice.

The team
  • Men: Jabir MP (400m Hurdles), Jinson Johnson (1500m), Avinash Sable (3000m Steeplechase), K. T. Irfan and Devender Singh (20km Race Walk), Gopi T. (Marathon), Sreeshankar M. (Long Jump), Tajinder Pal Singh Toor (Shot Put), Shivpal Singh (Javelin Throw), Muhammed Anas, Nirmal Noah Tom, Alex Antony, Amoj Jacob, K. S. Jeevan, Dharun Ayyasamy and Harsh Kumar (4x400m Men and Mixed Relay).
  • Women: P. U. Chitra (1500m), Annu Rani (Javelin Throw), Hima Das, Vismaya V. K., Poovamma M. R., Jisna Mathew, Revathi V, Subha Venkatsan, Vithya R (4x400m Women and Mixed Relay).