Track and field to come alive on Tuesday

India, already comfortably perched at the top of the overall medals tally, will be looking to extend its lead as the athletic events of the 12th South Asian Games get underway at the Indira Gandhi stadium in Sarasujai, on Tuesday.

Champion shot putter Inderjeet Singh has decided to pull out from the mett.   -  R. Ragu

India, already comfortably perched at the top of the overall medals tally, will be looking to extend its lead as the athletic events of the 12th South Asian Games get underway at the Indira Gandhi stadium in Sarasujai, on Tuesday.

The 37-card programme packed into four days, however, will in no way be a cakewalk for the home athletes, as they will have to fight hard against Sri Lanka and Pakistan. More so in the sprint events where India has very little chance of winning the gold.

Fastest man

All eyes will be on Sri Lanka’s Himasha Eashan, who is easily the fastest man of the region this season with a time of 10.3s. He will slug it out with team-mates Mohamed Ashrafu and Maldivian Hassan Saaid, who have made it here with an identical best of 10.42s.

India will be aiming for medals through its standard bearers in long distance running and throw events. However, the last-minute decision of champion shot putter Inderjeet Singh to stay away will hamper its bid. Also hurting India badly will be the absence of Tintu Luka, now preparing for the Rio Olympics.

However, there are still medal prospects in M. R. Poovamma (400m), M. Gomathy (800m), Gayathri Govindaraj (110m hurdles), Manpreet Kaur (shot put) and Annu Rani (javelin), all in the women’s section.

For former Asian champion Mayookha Johny, it will be a tough outing as she is is set to take on a strong Sri Lankan pair of N. C. D Priyadarshani and Vidush Lakshnani in long jump.

Besides Eashan, the other major attraction in the men’s section will be Mohsin Ali (Pakistan), who is attempting to defend his 110m hurdles title from Dhaka 2010.

The Indians to watch out for in this section include Arokya Rajeev (400m), Ajay Kumar Saroj (800m and 1500m), Suresh Kumar Patil (5000m), T. Gopi (10000m), jumpers K. Prem Kumar and Renjith Maheswari, and Neeraj Chopra (javelin throw).

The events will conclude on Friday with the marathons.