AFI banks on mixed relay squad for a medal in world meet

The Deputy Chief coach of the Indian athletics team P. Radhakrishnan Nair said the expectation was based on the current ranking and the present form of the likely members of the relay team.

"For the world meet, we will have a full-strength team. Both Hima and Arokia Rajiv are fit and if things fall in place we will see a podium finish,’’ said Radhakrishnan Nair. (File Photo)   -  GETTY IMAGES

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) is banking on its mixed relay team to win a medal in the upcoming Doha World Athletics championship.

The Deputy Chief coach of the Indian athletics team P. Radhakrishnan Nair said the expectation was based on the current ranking and the present form of the likely members of the relay team.

"Our mixed relay team is ranked 13 in the world but that standing was based on performance in the World relays. But we know that the poor performance in the world relays was due to injuries to key runners Hima Das and Arokia Rajiv.

"While Hima didn't fully recover from her back injury, Arokia Raj got a freak injury as he banged his big toe on a stone while returning to his room after training. At first, we didn't think it was serious. He even warmed up but when he put on his spikes he felt a shooting pain and we had to replace him," Radhakrishnan Nair said.

"For the world meet, we will have a full-strength team. Both Hima and Arokia Rajiv are fit and if things fall in place we will see a podium finish,’’ said the coach.

Neeraj to miss world championship

However, Neeraj Chopra who is recuperating after an elbow surgery, will not be part of the Indian team for the World meet. According to Radhakrishnan, Neeraj, who is undergoing rehabilitation at the Inspire Sports Academy in Bellary will not be rushed to the competition.

"Neeraj has slowly started strengthening exercises and will take more time to regain full fitness. There is no need to rush Neeraj. We have asked him to take it easy. He is our Olympic hopeful and we need to protect him and we are happy with his recovery process. He will join the national camp after August 15, " the coach said after visiting Neeraj along with Volker Herrmann, the new performance director of the AFI.

Sreeshankar who has been training in Palakkad with his father and personal coach Murali has been asked to spend a week in Patiala for periodical assessment. Both Radhakrishnan and Volker Herrmann also met Asian Games triple jump gold medallist Arpinder Singh in Bellary and sought details of his training and performance in European meets.

Arpinder has the chance to make it to Doha by virtue of his world rankings.

India will field at least a 40 member team including the support staff for the world meet. "Seventeen athletes have already earned qualification for the World Championships. There will be an addition of 16 athletes since we will be taking part in the relays, " he said.