The 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be uppermost on the minds of athletes at the four-day National Open Athletics Championship which begins in Lucknow on Tuesday.
The meet, which is the first domestic event after the Rio Olympics, is set to provide an opportunity for young athletes to join the campers for the Asian Games as well as make it to the first list of core probables for the 2020 Games.
The meet, which will be held on the newly-laid synthetic track at the Sports Authority of India centre in Lucknow, will see many top international athletes in action, including Olympians Renjith Maheshwari and Tintu Lukka.
“It’s a big opportunity for the youngsters to stake their claim for future events such as the Olympics and the Asian Games as it’s part of AFI’s (Athletics Federation of India’s) long-term planning to ensure India’s success at the top,” said UP Athletics Association secretary, PK Srivastava. “Those, who miss the event here may not be getting a chance even to make it to the campers list for the 2018 Asian Games.
“We had 13 medals at the Incheon Asian Games and we are targeting to make it double at the 2018 edition. The first coaching camp of the probables will start on October 15 and there is no other championship in the next six months. So everybody is aiming something big,” added Srivastava, who is also the AFI’s treasurer.
Five athletes from Nepal will also take part in the meet. “This is for the first time that Nepalese athletes would be participating in the Indian domestic championship. They would be attempting the national record of their country as they don’t have photo finish facility there,” added Srivastava.
Over 500 athletes, representing 35 teams from the various states and sports control boards, will be vying for the 44 gold medals at stake in the meet.