Nirmala confirms entry for Guwahati meet

The 'mysterious' Nirmala Sheoran is expected to make an appearance at the National Inter-State Athletics Championship to be held at Guwahati from June 26 29.

Nirmala’s whereabouts were not known to the athletics fraternity, including the federation, but her entry was confirmed to Sportstar by a source on Tuesday.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

The 'mysterious' Nirmala Sheoran is expected to make an appearance at the National Inter-State Athletics Championship to be held at Guwahati from June 26 29. The championship will be the last chance for athletes to make the team for the Asian Games.

Nirmala’s whereabouts were not known to the athletics fraternity, including the federation, but her entry was confirmed to Sportstar by a source on Tuesday. “She has sent her entry but she won’t be included in the relay team since she has not been participating in the national camp,” said the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) official.

Recently, the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) had also excluded Nirmala from its Registered Testing Pool (RTP).

Nirmala’s absence from the relay squad would mean that as per rules India may be one short of the normal six allowed for a relay team since an individual entry (if she makes the team in 400m) perforce has to be named in the relay squad.

The AFI official also confirmed that no athlete, except javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, would be given exemption from attending the inter-state meet. “The exemption, only under exceptional circumstances, can be granted by the AFI president. As of now, everyone will attend the trials barring Neeraj,” the official emphasised. The AFI decision means all the athletes, training in Poland, Finland and Bhutan, would be seen in action at Guwahati.

The meet at Guwahati also assumes importance since the selectors would pick the team for the 4x400m mixed relay. The event will be held for the first time at the Asian Games and offers India a decent chance to win the gold.

The AFI is keen to pick the best for the mixed relay. “We reckon that India is well placed for the gold because it has the best team. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have good male runners but not women. We can expect fight from Bahrain and Sri Lanka but we have a good chance,” added the official.