Sprinters Amlan Borgohain and Jyothi Yarraji are expected to be among the few star attractions at the 61st National Open Athletics Championships, which gets underway at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Saturday.
Owing to the short turnaround time after the National Games, Open Athletics will not feature the likes of long-jumpers M. Sreeshankar and Jeswin Aldrin. The triple jump trio of Eldhose Paul, Abdulla Aboobacker and Praveen Chithravel will also miss the event.
Amlan won the 100m and 200m titles at the recently concluded National Games in Gujarat, and holds the National Record in both. Yarraji was crowned the best in 100m and 100m hurdles and can look forward to another showdown against the likes of Hima Das and Olympian Srabani Nanda.
Javelin champion D.P. Manu and race walker Ram Baboo, who created a new National Record over 35km in Gandhinagar, are the other athletes to watch out for. Also in the entry list is shot putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor, the 2018 Asian Games gold medallist, who is on a comeback trail after missing both the World Championship and Commonwealth Games because of a groin injury.
With the city in the midst of a rainy spell, conditions are expected to be damp and wet. But temperatures did rise a few notches Thursday evening when Manu was prevented from practising in the main event area.
“According to competition rules, the main pitch cannot be used before the event,” clarified A. Rajavelu, secretary of the Karnataka Athletics Association, host of the meet. “
Also, the ground is maintained by Government’s DYES department and ISL (Indian Super League) football also happens here.
“We can’t damage the turf by practising. The ground was booked for the event from 15th to 19th. We can practise on the track before that but not on the grass. This rule is for all, not just one athlete.”