Quartermiler Aishwarya Mishra, who shocked many with her Asia-leading 51.18s at the Federation Cup in April and then went incommunicado, does not figure in the entry list for the Inter-State National athletics which begins in Chennai’s Nehru Stadium on Friday.
But there is a bunch of young 400m runners who are appear capable of producing some very fast times.
“I expect surprises and the gold to go for something like 51.5s. Even if we don’t have Aishwarya (Mishra) and Anjali Devi (now injured), don’t we have Kiran,” asked P.T. Usha in a chat with Sportstar from Chennai on Wednesday evening.
“Since Kiran (Pahal) has run 51.84s (Asia No. 2) in the recent Haryana State meet, she can probably do 51.65s with the competition in Chennai. And there will be two or three running 52-plus.”
The 400m national campers have been lying low and did not post great timings in their lone foreign competition in Erzurum with Dandi Jyothika being the best with 53.47s. V.K. Vismaya, a member of the gold-winning 2018 Asian Games women’s 4x400m relay team but who clocked a poor 55.03 in the Indian GP in March (her lone competition this year), also figures in the inter-State entry list and her return will be closely watched.
Incidentally, four of the country’s five fastest quartermilers (Priya Mohan, third, 52.37; Rupal Choudhary fifth, 52.48) this year are all non-national campers with M.R. Poovamma (fourth, 52.44) being the lone camper in the top five while Usha’s national camp trainee Jisna Mathew is sixth (53.40).
That has now thrown up another interesting battle: one between foreign and Indian coaches!
Will the non-campers, trained by Indian coaches, be better than the national campers who are coached by Russia-born Galina Bukharina and who trained for two months in Turkey before going to Chennai?
There will also be an interesting foreign-Indian coach battle in long jump between M. Sreeshankar, coached by his dad S. Murali, and Jeswin Aldrin, coached by Cuba’s former Worlds triple jump medallist Yoandris Betanzos at the JSW's IIS centre in Bellary.
Sreeshankar (this year’s World No. 2 with his national record 8.36m) and Aldrin (PB 8.26m), currently Asia’s one and two, have had a very good season.
“I expect to do a personal best, something like 8.40m,” said Aldrin, who had a wind-assisted 8.37m at the Federation Cup, from Chennai. That is something that could rattle Sreeshankar’s national record.
But the Tamil Nadu 20-year-old could manage only 7.82 and 7.69m in competitions in Italy and Spain recently.
“I was tired from the travelling so couldn’t jump properly. We were supposed to leave (for the foreign trip) one month before competition but because of visa issues, we reached very close to the meets,” said Aldrin.
With Sreeshankar producing an impressive 8.31m in Greece recently, the long jump should be a hot event in Chennai.
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