After the string of successes last year, India’s top track and field athletes were expected to carry forward their form to the qualification events for the London Olympics.
The high point of the 2010 season was the rich haul at the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games at Guangzhou, China. The performances left aficionados hoping that track and field had reached a new high in India.
Instead, the hopes were dashed by the pedestrian performance at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.
Now, as the Open Nationals begins in Kolkata from Saturday, it remains to be seen how many athletes manage to attain the Olympic qualification mark.
After four of the women’s 4x400 relay team tested positive in July, most of the star athletes have either managed to put up mediocre performances or skipped major meets.
The legendary Milkha Singh feels winning medals at the Commonwealth Games or the Asiad isn’t the true picture of progress. “It’s all drug-related performance,” he said.
He could be right. After 2010, the top athletes have struggled, and this is evident from the results at Daegu. Much was expected of the eight-member team, but only discus thrower Vikas Gowda (who finished seventh in the final) and women’s 800m runner Tintu Luka produced efforts of some note.
Plagued by injuries early in the season, Tintu faded away in the semifinals but made sure her timing met the ‘B’ qualification mark for the London Games. “Winning medals at the Olympics or a world meet will give the real picture of our rise,” said Milkha.