The Athletics Federation of India has withdrawn former Asian Games discus throw champion Seema Punia and race walkers Rahul and Bhawna Jat from next month’s World Championships in Oregon, USA.

Seema, who qualified for the Worlds with 63.72m at the Patiala Inter-State Nationals soon after the entry gates opened in June 2021, has not come anywhere close to that mark after that. In fact, her best this year is 55.97m which came at the Bhubaneswar Indian Grand Prix in May.

Meanwhile, 20km race walker Rahul had qualified for the Worlds in February 2021 (the entry gates for race walk opened earlier) while Bhawna is on the 67th spot in the Road to Oregon rankings with a chance to make the cut (top 60 qualify). Both had competed in last year’s Olympics.

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The lack of performance appears to be the reason for pulling out Seema – who has won a medal in each of the last four editions of the Commonwealth Games – and the others from the Worlds. So, will Seema and Bhawna – who also figure in the Commonwealth Games team – be stopped from going to the Birmingham event (in July-August)?

Commonwealth Games is still a month away...what is the hurry? All names have been sent to the Indian Olympic Association. - Adille Sumariwalla

“No,” said Adille Sumariwalla, the AFI president, in a chat with Sportstar on Tuesday evening. “(They were withdrawn from the Worlds for) better preparation for the Commonwealth Games.”

Sumariwalla also revealed that Seema, who is currently training in the U.S., will be competing in a meet there in July and the AFI would decide her case for Birmingham based on that performance (the AFI’s entry standard for CWG is 58m).

Regarding the other athletes, including discus thrower Navjeet Kaur and hammer thrower Sarita Singh, who have been asked by the AFI to improve their performance, Sumariwalla said, “Commonwealth Games is still a month away...what is the hurry? All names have been sent to the Indian Olympic Association, including the five (additional entries, the AFI has been given a quota of 36 athletes for the Commonwealth Games),” said the AFI chief.

He also said a selection committee meeting would be held to finalise the World Championships team and the final list would be announced on June 30.