Will Almaty prove to be a magical stage again?

Sprinter Dutee Chand will be looking to make the qualification standard for this August’s World Championships in London which is 11.26s.

Dutee Chand’s national record time of 11.24s in the 100m was not ratified by the Athletics Federation of India though it helped the Odisha athlete to qualify for the Olympics.   -  V.V. Subrahmanyam

After missing last week’s Tatiana Kolpakova meet at Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan owing to visa issues, a bunch of Indian athletes will leave New Delhi on Thursday to compete in the two-day G. Kosanov memorial meet which begins at Almaty, Kazakhstan, on June 24.

“The team could not go to Kyrgyzstan (June 17) owing to visa problems,” said a national coach. “But we will be sending a women’s 4x100m relay team along with the other athletes to Kazakhstan.”

The team for Almaty includes the country’s fastest woman Dutee Chand, Srabani Nanda, Merlin Joseph, Reena George, quartermilers Jisna Mathew, M.R. Poovamma, Asian 800m champion Tintu Luka, long and triple jumpers V. Neena and N.V. Sheena, shot put national record holder Manpreet Kaur, national men’s long jump record holder Ankit Sharma, triple jumper Arpinder Singh and shot putter Tejinderpal Singh Toor.

P.T. Usha and Nagapuri Ramesh are among the coaches who will be going to Almaty.

The Indian team’s trip to Almaty ran into a bit of controversy on the road to the Rio Olympics last year and Dutee Chand’s national record time of 11.24s in the 100m was not ratified by the Athletics Federation of India though it helped the Odisha athlete to qualify for the Olympics.

“Neutral observers doubt the races in which Dutee Chand clocked 11.24s and 11.30s (in final and heats) in the Almaty meet in June 2016,” explained the AFI later. The women’s 4x100m relay team, which included Dutee, Srabani Nanda and Merlin Joseph, also broke the national record in Almaty last year.

Dutee, who broke her national record with a 11.30s run (old record 11.33, 2016) in the Indian Grand Prix last month in New Delhi, will be looking to make the qualification standard for this August’s World Championships in London which is 11.26s.

Long jumper Ankit Sharma is another athlete who raised many eyebrows when he broke the national record with an amazing leap of 8.19m at Almaty last year.

Compared to that huge jump, his form has been mediocre this year.

Will Almaty prove to be a magical stage again?