Athletes eye CWG qualification ahead of Federation Cup Athletics

The biggest to miss out would undoubtedly be discus thrower Vikas Gowda, the lone Commonwealth Games gold medallist for the country from Glasgow four years ago.

Vikas Gowda had earlier indicated quitting sports after the 2018 CWG but the 34-year old has not sent his entry and the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) professing ignorance about his whereabouts. (File Photo)   -  Biswaranjan Rout

The four-day Federation Cup, starting Monday here, would be the last chance for 30-odd athletes to board flight to Gold Coast but some big names would not be on that list. In fact, there is little possibility of India filling up its quota of 37 for the Commonwealth Games.

The biggest to miss out would undoubtedly be discus thrower Vikas Gowda, the lone Commonwealth Games gold medallist for the country from Glasgow four years ago. But he won't be the only one. Gowda, who trains in the USA, had earlier indicated quitting sports after the 2018 CWG but the 34-year old has not sent his entry and the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) professing ignorance about his whereabouts.

“We have no information about him. Or Nirmala Sheoran for that matter. All we know is that those who do not participate here won't be considered for CWG,” AFI secretary CK Valson declared. Sheoran, India’s fastest quarter-miler, was last seen in action during the Asian Athletics Championships 2017 when she won gold. Since then, the AFI is clueless about her activities or location.

There are others who would be absent. Tintu Luka and Jisna Mathew, both trainees of PT Usha are, according to AFI sources, concentrating on the Asian Games and SAF Games with Jisna also targetting the Junior World Championships later this year. In fact, three of the four relay teams are unlikely to make the cut given the strict AFI qualification guidelines.

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“We had hoped for four relay teams, which means 24 athletes. But it looks highly unlikely, the timings are not satisfactory at all. Only the men's 4x400m team is strong enough to go. See, three of our strongest women quarter-milers are not participating. The others are struggling with poor timings. In the 4x100m, there is even lesser hope. Let's see, we will take a call depending on how the relay teams perform here,” a senior AFI coach commented. Lalita Babar too would be missing in the steeplechase 3000m due to fitness issues.

Among those who would be in action are hurdler Siddhanth Thingalaya — flying in after a disappointing sixth-place finish at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham – and high-jumper Tejaswin Shankar, who recently equalled the national record of 2.28m in Kansas. The two, however, have already expressed their disappointment with being forced to participate despite their hectic schedule and travel.

India has only seven athletes qualified so far – four race walkers, Neeraj Chopra (javelin), Navjot Kaur (shot put) and Nayana James (long jump). Of the other two Indian medallists from Glasgow, discus thrower Seema Punia would fancy her chances along with triple-jumper Arpinder Singh, who holds the national record at 17.17m but has struggled to breach the 17m mark in recent times.

The below is the AFI qualifying guidelines for Commonwealth Games 2018.

Event

Men

Women

100m10.16 secs11.15 secs
200m20.35 secs22.60 secs
400m45.30 secs52.00 secs
800m01:46:0002:01:50
1500m03:39:5004:10:00
5000m13:25:0015:09:00
10000m28:00:0032:30:00
Marathon02:12:5002:30:14
Steeplechase08:20:0009:34:01
Pole vault05.45m04.00m
High jump02.25m01.90m
Long jump08.00m06.45m
Triple jump16.60m13.90m
Shot put20.20m17.00m
Discus throw62.00m59.00m
Javelin throw81.80m62.50m
Hamer Throw71.00m68.72m
Decathlon8000 pts--
Heptathlon--5826 pts
20km walk01:22:0001:35:00
4x100m relay38.35 secs44.21 secs
4x400m relay03:02:1703:32:45