A few years ago, when the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) floated the Indian Grand Prix (IGP), on the lines of the Asian Grand Prix, the idea held out hope.
Apart from the prize money on offer, which added to the athletes' earnings, it helped coaches gauge the performance of competitors and iron out flaws, if any, for the upcoming season.
This time, the AFI is struggling to make the season-opening domestic grand prix, scheduled to begin at the NIS tracks from today, a success.
The non-participation of top athletes has hit the AFI hard, as the event also serves as trials for the Asian Grand Prix meets in China later this month.
Manjit Kaur, the national record holder in women's 400m, is among the top names to give event a skip. Manjit, whose 2005 record of 51.05 seconds stands, said she was suffering from pain in the knee. Though she didn't disclose the nature of injury, Manjit expressed keenness to participate in the second leg of the IGP, to be held here on May 7. This means she will miss the Asian circuit.
The Punjab Police runner said she would be fit by July. "I am looking forward to the Asian Championship (in Japan in July)," she told HT on Monday.
Also on the injury list is Guangzhou Asian Games gold-medallist in women's 400m hurdles, Ashwini Akkunji. Sporting a bandaged left wrist, after a minor surgery, she too went through the paces. "I will not be participating in any competition till June," said Ashwini.
Also skipping the season-opener is Tintu Luka. The middle-distance runner is on the road to recovery and should be back in action by the end of June. Delhi Commonwealth Games champion, Krishna Poonia, who underwent a knee surgery, will also be missing.
The abstentions mean that evaluating the performance of top athletes will take a backseat. Agreeing, AFI director, ML Dogra, said, "The inter-state competition in June will give the experts another chance to review performances."