Inter-State athletics c’ship: All eyes on Archana, Arpinder

On the opening day of the Inter-State Championships in Lucknow, the spotlight would be on the women’s 200m as Archana Suseendran looks to breach the elusive 23.02s mark to seal her berth at the Doha Championships.

Srabani Nanda (in picture) clocked a season’s best of 23.53 seconds in June, but Archana’s 23.18-run at the 5th Indian Grand Prix has marked her favourite.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

Having run the fastest 200m by an Indian woman this season, Archana Suseendran would be looking to prove her performance 10 days ago was not a one-off on the opening day of the 59th Inter-State Athletics Championships here on Tuesday.

The elite group of male quartermilers, too, landed in the city on the eve of the competition, raising interest levels.

The meet, the final opportunity for many hoping to qualify for the World Championships in Doha next month, would see some big names trying to make the cut even as the rest of the field would be looking to improve their own performances at the PAC Stadium.

Leading the list of hopefuls would be triple jumper and Asian Games champion Arpinder Singh, whose training and performances have been as unsteady as his career achievements. One of only two Indians to have crossed the 17m mark, Arpinder failed to make the cut for the Asian Championships earlier this year with his training going all over the place.

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He went to the U.S., came back for a disappointing Federation Cup, didn’t receive approval to go back and has been training in Bangalore since then. His biggest competition would be from youngster Mohd. Salahuddin, who set a personal best in Almaty, and Renjith Maheshwary, the current national record holder who figures in the entry list but has been away from action for more than a year.

Quartermilers to participate in relay

Meanwhile, having decided to continue training abroad initially, the AFI has had a change of mind for the men 400m runners with the big names — Mohd Anas Yahiya, Arokia Rajiv,Dharun Aiyyasamy and Amoj Jacob — all confirmed participation. However, only Mohan Kumar Raja and Aiyyasamy would be participating in individual race with the rest only entering as the AFI team in the 4x400m relay.

On Tuesday, though, the spotlight would be on the women’s 200m, as Archana looks to breach the elusive 23.02 seconds mark for a ticket to Doha. She was expected to face stiff competition from Srabani Nanda, but the latter has skipped the event. Srabani, who has been training in Jamaica for a while now, clocked a season’s best of 23.53 seconds in June but Archana’s 23.18-run at the 5th Indian Grand Prix has marked her favourite. And while the Doha mark is not impossible — Srabani ran a personal best of 23.07s to qualify for Rio Olympics — it would take special effort from either runner to make the cut.

The men’s 5000m would see maximum competition with most of the top names in the fray. The entry list has Govindan Lakshmanan (Tamil Nadu) and Murli Kumar Gavit (Gujarat), both hoping to regain their places in the national camp, and Maharashtra’s Kalidas Hirave and Kisan Tadvi with any of them capable of taking top honours.