Long jumper Anju Bobby George will lead a strong challenge for India in the third Asian Indoor Athletics Championships starting in Doha on Wednesday.
India is fielding a large contingent of 32 athletes, including 15 women, in the three-day championships which will also serve as the qualifying meet for the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Spain next month and the Beijing Olympics.
For Anju, who won the silver medal in the previous edition of the championships in Pattaya in 2006, it will be a good build-up for Beijing and she would want to return with a gold this time.
India will also have triple jumper Renjith Maheswari, who has already booked a ticket to Beijing, besides a host of others who would be looking to make it to the Olympics.
Among top contenders in the championship are Sajeesh Kumar Joseph and Rajeev Ramesan in 800m, Chatholi Hamza and Sajeesh Kumar Joseph in 1500m, Surendra Kumar in 3000m, Hari Shankar Roy in high jump, Shiv Shankar Yadav in long jump, while decathlete P J Vinod will compete in heptathlon.
All of them were the best performers in their respective events last year.
The women's contingent will also have top athletes. Besides Anju, others in the fray are last edition gold winner (in 1500m) Sinimol Paulose and Sushma Devi (in 800m and 1500m), Preeja Sreedharan in 3000m and J J Sobha in pentathlon.
India are fielding athletes in 18 events (nine out of 13 for men and 11 out of 13 for women).