Stars athletes to skip Patiala Indian Grand Prix

The Indian Grand Prix athletics tournament in Patiala will not feature Neeraj Chopra, Hima Das, Arpinder Singh and Tejaswin Shankar as they train abroad.

Neeraj Chopra.   -  AFP

The 2019 season for Indian athletics would kick off with the first leg of the Indian Grand Prix in Patiala on Saturday, but with many of the big names still training abroad, the competition would be more a chance for the rest to impress with their performances in the Olympic qualifying year.

The likes of Neeraj Chopra, Hima Das, Arpinder Singh and Tejaswin Shankar are in training while Jinson Johnson has already expressed his interest to concentrate only on the 1500m and as such would be unavailable. They are expected to return in time for either the final two legs of the IGP or the Federation Cup next month, which would be a selection event for the Asian Championships.

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Among those present would be Commonwealth Games javelin thrower Vipin Kasana and Asian Games gold medallists Tejinder Pal Singh Toor (shot put) and Manjit Singh (800m). Murali Sreeshankar has pulled out of long jump for the season opener with a heel strain and would now be participating in the third leg on March 2 instead.


Kunhu Muhammed, Muhammed Anas, Arokia Rajiv and Dharun Ayyasamy (left to right) celebrate after winning the silver medal in the men's 4x400m relay at the 18th Asian Games.


The 400m hurdles is expected to see the closest competition with Dharun Ayyasamy, Jithin Paul and M. Ramachandran all participating along with Mohammed Anas.

Interestingly, quartermiler Arokia Rajiv has entered in the 100m, an event he has not participated in before. “His entry is a surprise but we will have to wait till the morning of event to know for sure. The IGP are mainly build-up events ahead of the Federation Cup and also give a chance to some of the lesser-known athletes to impress the officials and selectors ahead of national selections,” an AFI official explained.

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The participation is further curtailed among the women with several events having just two entries – including discus throw, long jump and 400m hurdles – while Dutee Chand has been listed as one of only three runners in the 100m. “All events with at least three entries will take place. For those with less than three, we are trying to add entries from among NIS trainees. That would ensure a competition for those who have registered while also giving the trainees a chance to assess their own performance,” the official added.