Not for the best, Asian Athletics Championships chance for rest to win glory | other sports | Hindustan Times
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Not for the best, Asian Athletics Championships chance for rest to win glory

Presence of top athletes is certainly a big attraction, nonetheless Asian Athletics Championships is also one of the important meets for Indian athletes.

other sports Updated: Jul 06, 2017 22:04 IST
Navneet Singh
A sand sculpture-based on the upcoming 22nd Asian Athletics Championships made by sand artist Subal Maharana, in Bhubaneswar.
A sand sculpture-based on the upcoming 22nd Asian Athletics Championships made by sand artist Subal Maharana, in Bhubaneswar.(PTI)

As some of the top global athletes skip the four-day Asian Athletics Championships that kick start at the Kalinga Stadium here on Thursday, it seems the continental meet is for the rest.

Take for example Qatar’s high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim, who has set his sights on surpassing 2.45m, a world record that hasn’t been touched since it was set by Cuban Javier Sotomayor in 1993. Mutaz’s personal best is 2:43m. Therefore, his primary focus this season is the August 4-13 World Championships in London where he wants to accomplish his goal, and not the Asian meet.

He has been participating in the highly competitive Diamond League to polish his skills, hinting that it is not an ideal time for him to compete in the continental meet.

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In the build up to London, the Qatari Olympic silver medallist broke the over decade-long Bislett Games record of 2.38m in Oslo on July 15. Going by his current performance, he has already established himself as the leading jumper with at least five best performances of the 2017 season.

Like Barshim, top athletes from Japan too aren’t competing on Indian soil. Japanese teen sprint sensation Abdul Hakim Sani Brown, whose mother is Japanese while father is from Ghana, too has his focus on the worlds.

In the just-concluded Japanese national championships, Sani Brown raced to victory in the 100m at 10.05 secs, a personal best and under the entry standard of 10.06 secs for the worlds.

Shuhei Tada, another rising star from Japan, who is in the 10.10 secs bracket, is also skipping continental meet.

In fact, Japan is not fielding its top three sprinters in the 100m dash at Bhubaneswar. It has a single entry in Takumi Kuki. The 25-year-old has a personal best of 10.19 secs clocked three years ago.

Indian athletes’ target

Presence of top athletes is certainly a big attraction, nonetheless it’s one of the important meets for Indian athletes.

Men’s 100m national champion Amiya Mallick sees it as a big opportunity to earn a passage for the Worlds as all winners here will get direct entry. For those who can’t win gold medal, there is still an opportunity to achieve the entry standard of 10.12 secs.

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‘’Since there are few exposure trips for sprinters in the country, I just want to go all out and do something exceptionally good in front of the home crowd as it is the last chance for me to qualify for London,’’ he said.

If Mallick is determined to earn a ticket to the global event, national sprint coach N Ramesh said the continental competition will help him evaluate the performance of his athletes. ‘’It is one step towards the 2018 Commonwealth and Asian Games. So, it will help me examine what more needs to be done for good performances in 2018,’’ said the coach who is guiding sprinter Dutee Chand.

Athletics Federation of India (AFI) secretary general C K Valson, however, blamed the rescheduling of the competition for some of the best skipping it. ‘’The Asian meet was supposed to be held in June. But it was shifted, and it might be one of the reasons why some big names aren’t competing.’’