The best athletes of India — barring Neeraj Chopra and a few others — will participate in the Federation Cup National Senior Athletics Championship, which begins here on Friday.
Neeraj, who is currently training in South Africa since January 12, 2019, has been granted exemption from participation in this first big athletics meet of the season. The event also serves as the selection trials for the Asian Championships that will be held in Doha in April, 2019.
M. Sreeshankar, the national record holder in long jump, will also miss the event as he is injured . Tejaswin Shankar, a high jumper from Delhi, is studying on a full scholarship at the Kansas State University in the U.S., and will not compete due to a clash with examination dates.
The Athletics Federation of India has made it mandatory for all athletes — except those exempted — to participated in the Fed Cup if they wish to be selected for the Asian Championships. The selection committee, however, will take a final call on the matter. More than 700 athletes are expected to compete in the championship.
They include Hima Das, India’s new sprint sensation; Mohd. Anas, the quartermiler; Jinson Johnson and Manjit Singh, the Asian Games gold medallists — for 800m and 1500m; Arpinder Singh, the triple-jumper; Tajinder Singh Toor, the shot-putter; and Swapna Barman, the heptathlete.
Davinder Singh Kang, the javelin thrower, was Neeraj’s strong rival till 2017, when he tested positive for a banned drug; he will return to action after being cleared of doping charges. Inderjeet Singh, the shot-putter, will also participate in the meet after he was exonerated by the NADA.
Inderjeet, the 2014 Asian Games bronze medallist and the 2015 Asian champion, will face a tough challenge from Toor. The women’s 400m will be one of the most anticipated events at the meet. Hima, V. K. Vismaya, and the seasoned M. R. Poovamma will compete.
In the 100m and 200m categories, Dutee Chand will be the star attraction. In the women’s 200m, she will likely face still competition from Hima. In the men’s 400m, Muhammad Anas Yahiya will compete against Arokia Rajiv, Sachin Roby and Muhammad Kunhu. Ayyasamy Dharun will be the favourite to win gold in the 400m hurdles.
In the men’s 1500m, a three-way contest is on the cards. Johnson, Manjit and Ajay Kumar Saroj will be in the fray. In the women’s 1500m, Lili Das and P. U. Chitra will try to outdo each other. Providing a strong challenge to the duo will be Maharashtra’s Archana Adhav.
In the long distance double of 5,000m and 10,000m, Govindan Lakshmanan, the gold-medallist at the Asian Championships in 2017, will participate. In the men’s triple-jump. Arpinder Singh, the Asian Games gold-medallist, will start as favourite. Neena Pinto and Nayana James, the gold medallist at Fed Cup in 2018, will vie for gold in the women’s long jump.
In the women’s javelin throw, national record holder Annu Rani will be the overwhelming favourite to win the gold. Barman, the Asian Games gold-medallist, will try to break the 6,000-point barrier in heptathlon, but Odisha’s Purnima Hembram is expected to push her all the way.
In the absence of Tejaswin, the winner in 2018, and Siddharth Yadav, the silver-medallist in 2018, the men’s high-jump field will be a depleted one. S. Siva, the national record holder in pole vault, will be back to defend his crown.
- Video: MotoGP riders dance to Naatu Naatu at the Buddh International Circuit in New Delhi
- Ind vs Aus, 1st ODI: India beats Australia to dethrone Pakistan as the No. 1 ODI team
- IND vs AUS: Shami fifer, all-round batting effort help India beat Australia by five wickets in first ODI
- Premier League: Klopp expecting solid West Ham to be tricky opponents
- Redfern set to become first female umpire in men’s first-class game