Just as one was about to step into the Bambolin Athletics Stadium here, Jyothi Yarraji landed at the beautiful oval which will host the athletics events of the 37 th National Games from Saturday.
Packed with majors like the Asian Championships and the Asian Games, this year has been a long and hard one for athletes and many of the big names have opted to stay out of the Games here especially since they have come at the fag-end of the season.
The arrival of Jyothi, the Asian 100m hurdles champion and the Asian Games silver medallist, has clearly brightened up things.
“I just want to do this competition freely, just want to sort of relax here,” Jyothi told Sportstar. “I also want to try out some new things...I will be doing the hurdles, the 200m and the 4x100m relay here.”
Long jumper Ancy Sojan, who grabbed a sparkling silver with a personal best 6.63m at the recent Asiad in Hangzhou, is also in town.
“Ancy had a two-week break in training after the Asian Games but we thought we’d do this also and then close the season. I expect her to do above 6.50m here,” said Anoop Thomas, Ancy’s coach.
Meanwhile, Jisna Mathew was hard at training at the warm-up area.
Next year’s Paris Olympics is the big goal for many in Indian athletics. And with the form of many of the country’s leading quartermilers being very inconsistent and with some dropping off with sudden injuries or failing dope tests, there are bound to be vacancies in the Indian 4x400m relay team, especially in the women’s section.
“I had a best of 53.42s in the 400m this season, I want to bring it down to 52.40s (personal best 52.65s, 2017),” said the former Asian silver medallist in the quartermile.
Vithya Ramraj, who has had a sensational season, will also be in action here, according to Tamil Nadu Athletics Association secretary C. Latha. That should produce some entertaining fare in the women’s 400m.
Strangely, some of the biggest names in Indian athletics, including Olympic champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, quartermilers Muhammed Anas, Muhammed Ajmal and Amoj Jacob, and 1500m star Jinson Johnson figure in the entry list here. Almost all of them have indicated that they would not be competing here and their focus after the Asiad will be next year’s Paris Olympics.
Still, the National Games are also a qualification event for the Paris Olympics. And a surprise or two cannot be ruled out.
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