The season-ending National Open Athletics Championships, commencing Sunday at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, may not provide the fireworks as a majority of the top athletes are tired after a long season.
For athletes like MR Poovamma, who have already achieved their best this season by competing in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the Incheon Asian Games, it would be extremely difficult to motivate themselves to set the track ablaze.
Given the scenario, the event will be an exercise for athletes to collect points for their respective departments and institutions. Also, there is little reason for the top contenders to push themselves hard at the fag end of the season as they are assured of berths in the national preparatory camps for the next season. Chief coach Bahadur Singh said, “We cannot ignore them even if their performance is average.”
Defending the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) for hosting the event despite understanding the futility of the exercise, he said, “The event might give upcoming athletes the chance to make a mark.”
Even before it was inaugurated for the Commonwealth Games in 2010, the JLN Stadium track got damaged near the 300m mark. It was hurriedly repaired for the mega event and, in the last four years the back straight has been repaired twice. In the last week of September this year, it got damaged again around the 300m mark, and though repair work was carried out, the first lane has some seepage problem. A senior AFI functionary, though, claims that, “It would be repaired in time for the competition.”
Because of the condition of the track, some athletes feel they won’t be able to give their best performance. The throwing events will be held in the warm-up area and not inside the main stadium because of the ongoing ISL.