India’s tentative Commonwealth Games athletics squad chosen, relay team may go

According to an Athletics Federation of India (AFI) official, some athletes close to the 2018 Commonwealth Games (CWG) qualifying norm were given grace points and chosen in the national squad.

other sports Updated: Mar 09, 2018 20:28 IST
Navneet Singh
Navneet Singh
Hindustan Times, Patiala
Commonwealth Games,Athletics,Athletics Federation of India
Neeraj Chopra is one of the athletes who has qualified for Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018.(Getty Images for IAAF)

Javelin thrower Vipin Kasana from Uttar Pradesh is among five included in India’s tentative athletics squad for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games starting on April 4 despite narrowly missing the qualifying norm.

According to an Athletics Federation of India (AFI) official, some athletes close to the CWG qualifying norm were given grace points and chosen in the national squad.

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The athletics federation has a quota of 37 athletes. Overall 13 athletes, including four in race walking events, have achieved CWG qualification norms. Besides the five athletes in individual events, AFI will also consider the men and women’s 4x400m relay teams. The list has been sent to the sports ministry for approval.

Vipin Kasana won silver behind Neeraj Chopra with a throw of 80.04m in the Indian Grand Prix meet in Patiala that preceded this week’s Federation Cup. He narrowly missed the CWG norm of 81.80m. He withdrew from the Federation Cup that ended on Thursday due to back pain.

Kasana’s selection though has raised a question about his lack of consistency in international meets. In the 2014 Glasgow CWG, he qualified for the medal round with a throw of 71.95m, but missed the final for unknown reasons. Ravinder Singh Khaira too missed the medal round after qualifying with a throw of 72.18m.

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“We have given chance to those athletes who were very close to the CWG norms,” said an AFI official on condition of anonymity as the team is yet to be officially declared.

The AFI selection panel headed by former athletics great Gurbachan Singh Randhawa deliberated on the overall performances at the end of the four-day Federation Cup, shortlisting a 37-member team for Australia.

Long jumper Sreeshankar M, whose winning just of 7.99m at the Federation Cup was a centimetre short of the norm, has also been included in the CWG team.

In men’s triple jump, Federation Cup bronze medallist D Arivuselvam of Tamil Nadu, with a best final jump of 16.49m, got the nod ahead of silver medallist Renjit Maheswary, who cleared 16.51 but suffered a knee injury and did not take the last two jumps. The qualifying mark was 16.60m. Gold medallist Arpinder Singh qualified with 16.61m.

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Kerala’s women long jumper Neena Pinto, whose best was 6.28m, has also got the nod. The qualifying norm was 6.45m.

Purnima Hembram of Odisha, who won the heptathlon with 5815 points but missed the qualifying mark by 11 points has also been included.

Men’s 800m winner Jinson Johnon too is likely to make the cut. He too narrowly missed the marks of 1 minute, 46 secs in 800m and 3:39.50 secs in the 1,500m.

The AFI is likely to enter the longer relay teams. The top six quarter-milers at the Federation Cup have been selected, an AFI official said. After the final approval, the selected athletes will go to Australia for a pre-Games training.

High jumper Tejaswin Shankar, who set a national record 2.28m, though will return to his training base in the US and join the team later.

Tentative CWG athletics squad:

Men

Dharun Ayyasamy (400m hurdles), Sreeshankar M (long jump), Arpinder Singh, D Arvuselvam (triple jump), Tejinder Pal Singh Toor (shot put), Neeraj Chopra, Vipin Kasana (javelin), Tejaswin Shankar, Siddharth Yadav (high jump), KT Irfan, Manish Singh Rawat (race walking).

Women

Hima Das (400m), L Suriya (5,000m, 10,000m), Seema Punia, Navjeet Kaur Dhillon (discus), Nayana James, Neena Pinto (long jump), Purnima Hembram (heptathlon), Soumya B, Khushbir Kaur (race walking).

First Published: Mar 09, 2018 20:20 IST