Athletics: Scheduling worries hit Junior Nationals

Many events have been scheduled to be held in the afternoon session where it gets terrible

Beant Singh (on right, in red T-shirt) warms up for the National junior athletics championships which begin at Mangalagiri, near Guntur, on Wednesday evening.   -  Stan Rayan

He has been training in cold Dharamsala for the last few weeks but on Thursday afternoon, Beant Singh will be running the under-20 boys 1500m under a burning sun at the Acharya Nagajuna University’s blue synthetic track in Mangalagiri near here.

The 33rd National junior athletics championships begin on Thursday and over 2000 athletes are here to give their best. But the scheduling of events was a big worry for many. “It is going to be very tough since we have the event 2.45 p.m. and it’s very hot here.” Beant told Sportstar after a light training session here on Wednesday evening.

The metric mile is not Beant’s strong event, the 800m is and two years ago, he won the Youth Asian title in the two-lapper in Doha. “I’ve not begun my speed work for the 800m, so I’ve decided to do only the 1500m here,” said the 18-year-old. “I had a knee injury and I resumed training only recently.”

Beant, who raised hopes of breaking Sriram Singh’s 40-year-old 800m national record  two years ago, had been to the last year’s under-20 Worlds and has set his sights on going to the event again next year in Tampere, Finland.

“The qualification time in the 800m is 1:50.00s…that should not be a problem,” he said.

THE BIG GOAL

Qualifying for the under-20 Worlds is the big goal for the top athletes here. Unfortunately, because of its poor scheduling of many events here, the Athletics Federation of India has put an unexpected hurdle for its stars of the future.

Kerala’s Olympian Jisna Mathew, the senior Asian bronze medallist and currently the country’s brightest junior quartermiler, is another athlete who has to run the 400m under the hot afternoon sun.

“The 400m is a premier event. Having the series of 400m finals between 2.20 p.m. and 2.40 p.m. will not help athletes at all,” said P.T. Usha.

With complaints coming in, AFI secretary C.K. Valson said he would try to change the timings at least in a couple of events. “The schedule had been put up many days in advance, we will try to change the timings in at least the 400m,” he said.

If that happens, that should be good news for Delhi’s Asian junior champion Amoj Jacob, who is expected to reach Guntur late on Wednesday night. Amoj, who has already made a mark in the senior circuit, will be running the 400m and 800m here.

Meanwhile, away from the track, the spotlight will be on 16-year-old high jumper Gayathry Sivakumar. The Kochi girl is on familiar territory here, having won her maiden senior national title on this track four months ago with a personal best 1.79m at the inter-State meet.

 “I’m looking at something like 1.80m (under-20 Worlds entry, 1.82) here… if conditions are good, I can cross that,” she said.

Well, the future is right here and it’s sparkling…it just deserves the best stage.