Inter-State athletics: Chasing Asian Games entry with eye on weather
India’s track and field stars chase qualification for the Jakarta Asian Games in August-September at the Inter-State Athletics Championships starting in Guwahati on Tuesday.Updated: Jun 25, 2018 17:11 IST
India’s top athletes, barring two given exemption, will chase qualifying standards for the Jakarta Asian Games starting on August 18 when they take part in the Inter-State Senior Athletics Championships here.
The four-day meet, starting on Tuesday, has been advanced by three weeks from its original dates of July 15-18. While the venue was shifted from Kolkata to escape its oppressive weather at this time of the year, it was also to meet the entry deadline (by name) of June 30. The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) was left red-faced after three late entries were rejected by the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games organisers in April.
Weather may still not be ideal for this final qualifying event for the Games. It rained on Monday with more showers expected, but officials feel the athletes won’t find it too hot or humid. The forecast is for temperatures in the low 30 degree Celsius.
National sprint coach N Ramesh, who trains Dutee Chand, felt humidity won’t affect the sprinters. “Considering it’s one big chance to earn national colours, things should have been ideal, but weather might not have a negative impact on sprinters,’’ he said.
However, distance coach Surendra Singh has fingers crossed. ‘’It will be very taxing for those who plan the 10,000m-5,000m double because you sweat profusely.” Top distance runners, including Olympian Sudha Singh, were training in cooler Bhutan.
AFI secretary-general, CK Valson, agreed the weather may not be as pleasant as expected, but it won’t hinder good performances. ‘’The track is fast, it’s good for competition. Guwahati was the best choice because elsewhere the overall facilities were not good.’’
Unlike the 30-member quota for CWG, India can enter 102 athletes in Jakarta. “If sprinters do well, we can field teams in both relays for men and women,” said Valson.
The AFI clarified on its original diktat that those not in the national camp won’t be picked for relays. National women’s 400m champion Nirmala Sheoran’s whereabouts were unknown since she took part in the London world athletics last year. “The non-campers who produce outstanding performances will have to participate in confirmatory trials on August 15,” he said.
That window, Valson said, will also be open to those on the injured list now. Middle-distance runner Tintu Luka, a PT Usha protégée who won 800m silver at the 2014 Incheon Games, is among them.
AFI has given direct entries to CWG javelin champion Neeraj Chopra and women’s discus thrower Seema Punia, who are both training abroad.
First Published: Jun 25, 2018 17:10 IST