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HindustanTimes Fri,24 Oct 2014

Athletics

Poonia and Preeja carry India's hopes in Asian Athletics Championships
B Shrikant , Hindustan Times
Pune, July 03, 2013
First Published: 00:53 IST(3/7/2013)
Last Updated: 03:27 IST(3/7/2013)

Well begun is half done, and that would be ringing in India chief coach Bahadur Singh's ears as three of his medal hopefuls line up on the opening day of the 20th Asian Athletics Championships here on Wednesday.

A gold on the opening day will be a boost not only for him and his athletes, it will also set the tone for greater success in the five-day event.

Discus thrower Krishna Poonia, the Commonwealth Games champion, presents India's best chance on the first day with China deciding not to bring their top throwers, Tan Jian (64.08m) and Siyn Gu (62.24m). The two are way ahead when compared to the 59.43m that Poonia has managed this season.

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China depleted
China have instead got Jiang Fengjing (59.84m) and Su Xinyue (61.67m), both of whom have done better than Poonia. Seema Antil too would be hoping to finish among the medals.

Besides Poonia and Antil, the coach would be hoping for a medal from distance runner Preeja Sreedharan in the women's 10,000 metres, the day's last event.

Preeja clocked 32 minutes 38.41 seconds last year, the best by an Indian and is also the reigning Asian Games champion in 10,000m and silver medallist in 5000m. Her personal best is 31.51.28s at the Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010.

"We are on course for a better performance than Kobe two years back. We have been preparing well though I cannot predict who will win what. All our athletes are in good shape and raring to go," said Bahadur.

Before Poonia and Antil, shot putter Om Prakash Singh will be in action along with the unheralded Inderjeet Singh and Satyendra Kumar. Chang Ming-Huang of the Chinese Taipei is the defending champion and the favourite.

Bahadur confident
Bahadur also cleared the air over the participation of Siddhant Thingalaya, the 110m hurdles national champion. Thingalaya has been training in London for the last couple of months and is expected to join the team on Wednesday.

Bahadur also confirmed that long-distance runner Kavita Raut had been ruled out. "She is unwell. Although she is with the team, she is not participating," he said.

"My target is that all athletes should give a good performance. Even if they don't win a medal, they should at least look to better their performance," said Bahadur.


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