AFI takes a tough stand, excludes non-campers from Asian Games team

Fitness trials for Tintu and Nayana, Jisna in relay squad

Nirmala, the Asian champion quartermiler, had been untraceable for the last nine months after the last year’s World Championships in London. (File Photo)   -  AFP

The athletes for the Asian Games have been selected and their names have been sent to the organisers. But, for some strange reason, the Athletics Federation of India was reluctant to officially announce its full team for next month’s Asiad in Jakarta.

“The entries have been sent to the Indian Olympic Association, but we cannot announce the team now because we will have fitness trials for seven or eight athletes on August 15. We have quite categorically written to the IOA that this is not the final team, this is only for entry purposes,” C.K. Valson, the AFI Secretary, told Sportstar on Sunday.

Valson said that the final team, which currently has about 55 athletes, who were selected in New Delhi on Saturday evening, will be announced after the August 15 trials. Athletics at the Asiad begins on August 25.

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“The team, however, will not get bigger because the entries have closed,” he said. For a change, the AFI appears to have taken a tough stand against non-campers, at least for its relay team.

“The women’s relay team has six members and only those who are in the national camp are part of the squad. Jisna Mathew and M.R. Poovamma are all there. And, Nirmala Sheoran will be running only the individual 400m. She will not run the relay, as of now,” said Valson.


Valson, however, hinted that Nirmala could run the relay if she joins the national camp at least now. Nirmala, the Asian champion quartermiler, had been untraceable for the last nine months after the last year’s World Championships in London. That had put the federation and the National Anti-Doping Agency in a dilemma.

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She popped up at last week’s Inter-State Nationals at Guwahati, the Asiad’s final qualification meet, and bettered her personal best while finishing second to Assam’s Hima Das.


Valson, who will be a crucial member of the athletics competition at the Jakarta Asiad as one of the two technical delegates there, said that the relay team system at the Asian Games was different from the Olympics.

“At the Olympics, anybody who qualifies for the individual 400m will automatically be a part of the six-member relay team, but that is not the case at the Asian Games, you can have a separate six-member team,” he said.

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Meanwhile, former Asian 800m champion and 2014 Asiad silver medallist Tintu Luka, who skipped the Guwahati meet with a heel injury, has been included in the team and will attend the August 15 fitness trials. Long jumper Nayana James, the 2017 Asians bronze medallist, who suffered an injury at Guwahati, also finds a place in the squad subject to clearing the fitness trials.

Gujarat’s Gavit Murli Kumar, who clocked the second fast 10,000m time ever by an Indian at the recent Gouden Spike meet in the Netherlands, but could not complete the 5,000 and 10,000m in Guwahati, has not been included in the team.

A few athletes, who were nowhere in the picture in earlier meets, but who came up with stunning performances at Guwahati, are missing from the list. Some of them had not been included in the initial long list, sent a few months ago, and hence could not be included now.

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