Varsities National needs to trim the number to raise the bar

A massive number of entries for most events, including a staggering 300 entries for the 100m event has put the organisers of the 78th National Inter-University Athletics Championship in a fix.

Jisna Mathew (left) and Calicut University's other internationals Abitha Mary Manuel and Shaharbana Sidhique along with their coach P.T. Usha in Mangalagiri on Monday for the National inter-university athletics championship.   -  Stan Rayan

She is the World University Games silver medallist in the 10,000m but Maharashtra’s Sanjivini Jadhav will be forced to run some 30,000m over four consecutive days at the 78th National Inter-University Athletics Championship which begins at the Acharya Nagarjuna University, Mangalagiri, on Tuesday.

The 21-year-old, representing Savitribai Phule Pune University, has been entered in the women’s 5000m and 10,000m but the heavy number of entries has forced the organisers to conduct heats in both the events.

And with the heats and final in both the distance events scheduled for consecutive days, the problem is likely to get worse for the athletes.

“We have received 95 entries in the women’s 5000m and 53 in 10,000m and with some more likely to come in, the number will only get bigger,” said Raja Velu, the meet’s leading technical official. “And since this championship is just a five-day event and as many of the distance runners will be running both the 5,000 and 10,000, we have to conduct the heats and final without a day’s break in between.”

The huge turnout for the country’s premier varsities championship – at last count was 3106 athletes from 212 universities on Monday afternoon – has virtually turned out to be a logistical headache for the host university and the meet’s technical officials.

GETTING OUT OF CONTROL!

The men’s 100m, for example, has more than 300 entries which mean some 33 first round heats will have to be conducted in this event alone.

“Things are getting out of control and none of the universities follow the qualification standards (eighth place of previous year) seriously,” said Y. Kishore, the Director of the Championship. “We need to have a zonal championship to reduce the burden for everybody.”

Clearly, there is a need to trim the number to raise the meet’s quality. That apart, the meet has attracted some prominent names including Olympians, World Championship participants and Asian medallists like Dutee Chand, Jisna Mathew, P.U. Chitra and talented stars like quartermiler Pankaj Malik, hurdler Maymon Paulose, two-lapper Abitha Mary Manuel, distance runner Kisan Tadvi and long jumper Muhammed Anees.

Mangalore University, which has been taking stars from all over, won the overall and the men’s team title last year while Kottayam’s Mahatma Gandhi is the defending women’s team champion.