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No Indians to burn the tracks

Indian athletics is like a rigmarole that takes you through a whole length of complicated chicanes and then drops you nowhere, writes Ajai Masand.

india Updated: Dec 07, 2006 01:36 IST

Indian athleticsis like a rigmarole that takes you through a whole length of complicated chicanes and then drops you somewhere, leaving you none the wiser.

As the athletics events commence on Thursday, one is left wondering what is going on in Indian athletics — discus thrower Seema Antil being reported for a positive dope test, controversy surrounding the participation of the women's 4X100m relay team (it is learnt they have boarded the flight to Doha) and, of course, the dreary trials to put in place a rag-tag contingent. It's another thing whether they deserved to be in the squad or not.

But all that is past. The present and the future of the athletes will be shaped here in the coming seven days. There are just a handful of names to choose from, but given their form in the domestic season — with barely a few managing their career best this year — things seem to have started on a wrong note.

Discus thrower Krishna Poonia and OP Jaisha and Sinimol Paulose (1500m) are the only bright spots in a sedate year — with some saying that the reason being the World Anti-Anti Doping Agency (WADA) sleuths lurking around in the Indian athletic arenas.

Given the fact that hardly anything of note has been achieved at the domestic and international levels — quarter-miler and 800m runner Pinki Paramanik's performance at the three Asian GP events in Bangkok, Pune and Bangalore where she fetched five gold and a silver stands out.

Pinki, who hails from the Naxalite belt of Purulia has come a long way but her performance in the recent has not been that great — she finished second to S Shanthi in the 800m at the National Open in Delhi a couple of months back. Sinimol also had the measure of Pinki a week later in Chennai.

Shot-putter Navpreet Singh, representing Asia at the IAAF World Cup at Athens, finished with a dismal throw of 18.43, while his personal best remains 19.93.

Given the difference in distances and the fact that he has only gone once above 19 metres this season — at the second Asian Grand Prix in Bangalore (19.40) — this is surely a cause for concern.

Talking of throws, India's US-based discus thrower Vikas Gowda, is the one to watch out for. Despite finishing 14th at the Athens Olympics, he did well to clinch silver at Incheon with a throw of 62.84. And his personal best of 64.69 which is also the National record, could well win him a medal.

Long jumper Anju Bobby George has a lot of expectations resting on her shoulders. Plagued by injury, coupled with the fact that she is approaching 30, has put a big question mark on her hopes of retaining her throne. Still she remains one of our best bets.

The women's 4X400m relay team comprising Chitra Soman, Pinki Paramanik, Manjeet Kaur and one of the two, Mandeep Kaur or Satti Geetha, will make the squad. This time around, there are few stars and fewer performers.

In the event, it is difficult to match the Busan tally.

First Published: Dec 07, 2006 01:36 IST