The qualification doors for next month’s World Championships in the USA close on Sunday and there is a big rush to Almaty to achieve the magical timings and marks from the two-day 31 Qosanov Athletics Meet which begins on Saturday.
More than 30 Indians, perhaps the biggest bunch to travel for an international meet, will be in action and apart from making the cut for the Worlds (in Oregon, July 15-24), some like shot putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor and discus thrower Navjeet Kaur will also be looking to confirm their Commonwealth Games (in Birmingham, athletics: July 30-August 7) berths.
But there was a big shock as the team left India.
“Hima Das and Srabani Nanda are not there, they had visa problem,” a sprinter and relay runner told Sportstar from Istanbul on Friday where the team had a stopover before its night flight to Almaty.
That should be a big setback for the Indian women’s 4x100m relay team, currently 20 in the Road to Oregon rankings, which is hoping to get into the top 16 with a good time and go to the Worlds.
While many Indians will be keen to improve their personal bests, there are few good athletes to push them.
The startlists show that the Indians are way above the rest in almost all events. The men’s javelin throw is a classic case. Rohit Yadav, the recent Chennai Inter-State Nationals silver medallist with 82.54m, is more than 10m better than his nearest rival, Kazakhstan’s Artur Gafner, this season.
And some events like the men’s 400m, which features national record holder Muhammed Anas, Arokia Rajiv and Muhammed Ajmal, and women’s javelin with national record holder Annu Rani, Sanjana Choudhary, Shilpa Rani and Sharmila Kumari, promise to be an all-India affair.
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Performances in Almaty have raised eyebrows in the past and some Indian timings and marks, including one by a male long jumper and a woman sprinter prior to the 2016 Rio Olympics, had been marked as ‘suspicious’ results by prominent athletics statisticians.
But almost half the team will be competing after a sleepless night on their flight from Istanbul to Almaty. Many will be reaching Almaty around 3 a.m. and will be running their heats by 10 a.m.
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