It's not a case of 'the more the merrier' at the 80th National inter-university athletics championships which are currently on at Moodbidri, near Mangaluru. In fact, the huge number has made it a long wait for athletes in most events.
The men's 100m was a classic case. With the event attracting more than 300 sprinters, there were as many as 40 heats, while the women's section had 25 heats.
“In some of the women's 100m heats, some of the runners were 30m behind the winner,” said Thankachan Mathew, a prominent coach from Pala's Alphonsa College and part of the MG University team, from Moodbidri. “They should do something to bring down the numbers,” he added.
The scene was almost similar in the women's long jump qualifying round with the topper doing 6.09m and many at the back of the pack were not even able to do jump 3m. And in women's discus throw, the qualifying round topper produced a 47.81m effort while many at the lower end could not bring out a 15m throw.
The only solution, according to Athletics Federation of India secretary C.K. Valson, is to have qualification standards for the varsities Nationals.
“They should have qualification standards and select athletes. Otherwise, it will become a mess and you will only have time to run hours of competition and not have any results coming out of it,” said Valson, the Competitions Director for Asian athletics.
“Even technical officials will not be able to do a proper job. And with such big numbers in jumps and throws, an athlete will have to wait a long time after every round in the qualification series,” he added.
But there is a worry that universities and coaches may find a way around the qualification standards. “Universities may just bring athletes claiming that they had achieved the qualifying mark, so even introducing entry standards may not change the scene much,” said Thankachan Mathew. “At the MG University (in Kottayam), we have fixed the sixth place of the previous varsities Nationals as the entry standard,” he added.
Anju Bobby George, the country's lone World championships medallist (long jump bronze, 2003, Paris), said there used to be very few athletes in her event at the varsities Nationals during her university days. “There were very few jumpers, it used to be straight final often,” she recalled.
Apart from the heavy numbers, the timing of the championships has also drawn flak. “The timing is very bad. It's virtually off-season for almost the whole world. It's the building-up period now. You don't participate in the month of December or early January anywhere,” said the Valson.
He added, “And these athletes will have to be back to their form in the months of March-April again. They will not have sufficient time. Ideally, the varsities Nationals should be in September, just before the Open Nationals.”
The AFI had an observer and a technical delegation at the varsities Nationals a few years ago, but that is not the case now.
- Sherin breaks Mayookha's long jump record on day one -
Madras University's A. Sherin broke Mayookha Johny's 11-year-old meet record as she won the women's long jump gold in the 80th National inter-university athletics championships on Friday.
Meanwhile Mangalore's K.T. Juned bettered the men's 20m race walk record while Acharya Nagarjuna's K. Naresh Kumar and Y. Jyothi emerged as the championships' fastest athletes in the men's and women's sections. Jyothi upset Mangalore's S. Dhanalakshmi, the favourite, for the women's 100m gold.
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