Asian Athletics C'ships: National champion Tejaswin Shankar's exclusion raises eyebrows

Shankar had requested an exemption from participation in the recent Federation Cup since it clashed with his exams. However, the AFI exempted only javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra and excluded Shankar from the list.

Tejaswin Shankar holds the national record at 2.29m in high jump.   -  PTI

The Athletics Federation of India on Wednesday named a 51-member strong team for the Asian Championships but the squad was overshadowed by the one name missing from the list – that of high jumper Tejaswin Shankar.

Shankar, a second year student at the Kansas State University on full scholarship, had requested an exemption from participation in the recent Federation Cup since it clashed with his exams. However, the AFI exempted only javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, currently training in South Africa, and excluded Shankar from the list for Asian Championships. The 20-year old currently holds the national record at 2.29m and had recently won the Big 12 collegiate athletic meet in Texas with a leap of 2.28m.

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“We are okay to miss out on a medal in Doha because I don’t consider he will get a medal. We clearly told him that you have to come here and participate in one of the meets and show his performance. He was not able to do that and we have not selected him. The selection committee has made the decision. He is not even in the TOP scheme. He is not a medal prospect and being national champion is of no value,” AFI president Adille Sumariwalla said here while announcing the squad.

 

Interestingly, the bronze medal in the previous edition was at 2.24m.

Shankar, who initially only expressed his disappointment at missing out and wished luck to those selected, soon made his displeasure clear after coming to know of the AFI president’s statements. “I understand that I couldn’t take part in the fed cup organised by @afiindia & if that’s why I wasn’t considered for selection then I respect that decision. But if this is what Prez @Adille1 believes then I’m sorry to say but he has no right to judge if I am good enough or no,” he tweeted.

“I am not someone who wears the crown / takes false pride in being national champion and be content with my past successes. I know I can do better. But I also know that I am as capable as anyone else to win a medal for India,” he added.

However, while the AFI appeared to be sticking strictly to its rule of not considering anyone not appearing at the Fed Cup in the case of Shankar, it was more than willing to ease the rules for several others who failed to meet the qualifying norms in any of the five competitions that were considered for selection – the four Grand Prix and the Fed Cup.

The squad:

  • Men: 4x400m relay: Arokia Rajiv, Md. Anas, Kunhu Mohammed, Jeevan KS, Jithu Baby, Alex A; 800m: Jinson Johnson, Manjit Singh; 1500m: Jinson Johnson, Ajay Kumar Saroj; 3000m steeplechase: Avinash Sable, Shankar Lal Swami; 400m hurdles: Dharun Ayyasamy, Jabir MP; shot put: Tajinder Pal Singh Toor; javelin: Neeraj Chopra, Shivpal Singh
  • Women:
  • 200m: Dutee Chand; 4x400m relay: Hima Das, MR Poovamma, Saritaben Gayakwad, Jisna Mathew, Vismaya VK, Sonia Baishya; 1500m: Lili Das, Chitra PU; 400m hurdles: Saritaben Gayakwad; javelin: Annu Rani; heptathlon: Swapna Barman, Purnima Hembram
  • Subject to confirmatory trials (April 13)
  • Men: 5000/10000m: Murli Kumar Gavit, Abhishek Pal; triple jump: Praveen Chithravel; 4x100m: Gurindervir Singh, Harjit Singh, Siva Kumar, VK Elakkiyadasan, Gurulal Singh, Safikul Mondal
  • Women: 800m: Gomathi Marimuthu, Twinkle Chaudhary; 5000m: Parul Chaudhary; 3000m steeplechase: Parul Chaudhary, Sudha Singh; 400m hurdles: Arpitha M; discus throw: Kamalpreet Kaur, Navjeet Kaur Dhillon; javelin: Sharmila Kumari; 4x100m: Dutee Chand, Archana Suseendran, Ranga K, Hina, Revathi B, Dhanalakshmi S

Among those who have been included despite not qualifying are Jinson Johnson and Manjit Singh in 800m, discus thrower Navjeet Kaur Dhillon, heptathletes Swapna Barman and Purnima Hembram and javelin thrower Sharmila Kumari. The 4x400m relay teams for both men and women have also been included even though Arokia Rajiv was the lone quartermiler to qualify individually. Manjit, however, has not been included in the 1500m after pulling out in the final at the Fed Cup. He had qualified earlier at Grand Prix 2.

The AFI, interestingly, has even included long-distance runner Sanjivani Jadhav in the 10000m event, subject to her clearance to compete from NADA. Sanjivani was among five athletes who tested positive after their samples from the Inter-state Nationals last year were re-tested by WADA in Montreal, with her case pending with the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).

Eleven athletes in the squad – three men and 8 women – are not part of the national camp and would have to appear for confirmatory trials on April 13 before getting a final go-ahead. The 4x100m relay teams – both men and women – would also be finalised only after trials. “The team selected is in three groups. First group comprises of campers while the second group comprises of non-campers who will have to undergo confirmatory trials before the team departs. The third group is that of sprinters, both men and women, who will compete in the 4x100m relay, also subject to confirmatory trials,” Sumariwalla added.

The Asian meet is to be held from April 21-24 in Doha.