Qualification doors for CWG now open

“The Federation Cup (planned for March 5-8 in Patiala) is the last competition for selection for the Commonwealth Games (CWG),” says Chief National Coach Bahadur Singh.

Chief National Coach Bahadur Singh explained how the system will work this time.   -  The Hindu

Some of the country’s finest athletes have kept away from the National Open which began in Chennai on Monday but quietly, without anybody being aware of it, the qualification doors in athletics for next year’s Commonwealth Games have just opened.

The Athletics Federation of India’s qualification guidelines for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast (Australia, April 4-15) and the Asian Games in Jakarta (Indonesia, August 18-September 2) were released late on Sunday night, but surprisingly, it does not mention when the qualification period opens and closes.

However, Chief National Coach Bahadur Singh explained how the system will work this time.

“The Federation Cup (planned for March 5-8 in Patiala) is the last competition for selection for the Commonwealth Games (CWG).

From September 25, till that competition in March is the qualification period,” Bahadur Singh told Sportstar on Monday evening.

“But the most important thing is, one should be able to repeat the qualification performance in the last meet before the CWG, the Federation Cup. You can call the event which started in Chennai today as part of the qualification system but if you don’t do well in the final competition, there is no use of that.

“It is important that you are in good shape just before you go for the CWG.”

The AFI has laid out a similar policy for the Asian Games and the last competition will be the Inter-State Nationals (planned for July 15-18).

For the last few years, many of India’s top athletes have made the grade in foreign meets. Will it be possible for them to repeat their performances in low-quality domestic meets especially if there is none to push them? “If there is a tough competition, of course it is an advantage but if there is nobody, you should still show your calibre and repeat that performance,” said Bahadur.

“If an athlete is not able to do even the fourth place performance (of the last Commonwealth Games or the Asiad as the case may be), what is the need to send him? My view is very clear, we must send an athlete who is a medal hope, if performance is poor, nobody should go.”

P.T. Usha, the coach of stars like Tintu Luka and Jisna Mathew, feels the rule that athletes have to repeat their qualification performance in the last domestic meet was a bit unfair.

“If someone performs well in a Diamond League or a Grand Prix meet and if the athlete is not able to repeat that performance in a domestic meet, it would unfair if that athlete is not selected,” explained Usha.

“You need strong competition to bring out your best. Anyway, they may appear to insist on that rule now but I have not seen them stick on to that policy till now.”