Asian Games 2018: India to send 53-member athletics team
International distance runner G Lakshmanan from Tamil Nadu, who narrowly missed the Asian Games qualifying norms during the four day National Inter State Athletics Championships that concluded at Guwahati on Friday, has got the nod of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) selection panel.
In a meeting held here on Saturday, the AFI has selected 55-member team for Jakarta. The AFI has submitted the list to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to meet the June 30 deadline by name.
Despite 22 top athletes achieving the qualifying norms in Guwahati, AFI has given opportunity to those on the borderline.
Commonwealth Games champion in javelin throw Neeraj Chopra and seasoned discus thrower Seema Punia were exempted from the final selection trials and got direct entry for Jakarta.
But all those who are selected will have to attend confirmatory fitness test on August 15, said AFI president Adille Sumariwalla. ‘’The athletes don’t have to give their personal best before leaving for Indonesia but have to show that they are in good health and will be able to deliver their best during the Asian Games,’’ he said.
Considering hot and humid weather conditions prevailing in Guwahati, the AFI president said, some of the athletes who marginally missed the qualifying mark were given another chance.
Lakshmanan’s 10,000m winning time of 29 minutes 16.23 secs was just six seconds slower than the qualifying time of 29:10.
Likewise there were several others including shot putter Tejinderpal Singh Toor, whose best throw of 19.37m fell short of qualifying mark of 19.50m.
But not all were considered. ‘’We picked those athletes who have potential for podium finish,’’ said AFI president.
In the previous Asian Games in Incheon, Indian athletes bagged 13 medals two of them gold through discus thrower Seema Punia and 4x400m women’s relay squad.
The AFI think tank is targeting 20 medals this time. Traditionally India had been winning medals in the throwing competition. Besides field events, Indian women’s team had been winning medal in the longer relay. ‘’We have good bunch of 400m runners, it gives us edge over the other leading nations like Japan and China,’’ added AFI president.
India also stand a good chance in the mixed team event, it will be introduced for the first time.
Incidentally for relay team only those attending the national camp will be selected. ‘’Non campers have been debarred from the relay,’’ he said, adding the AFI had announced its selection policy six months ago.