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Fredericks to hog spotlight at AAG Athletics

Namibian sprinter Frankie Fredericks and 5000m World Champion Tirunesh Dibaba would be the star attractions along with Indian ace Anju Bobby George.

othersports Updated: Oct 27, 2003 18:43 IST
R Eswar (PTI)
R Eswar (PTI)

Veteran Namibian sprinter Frankie Fredericks and 5000m World Champion Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia would be the star attractions along with Indian long jump heroine Anju Bobby George in the Afro-Asian Games Atheletics competition beginning here on Tuesday.

But the catch is that no one here (including the organisers) seems to know who all foreigners will compete at the GMC Balayogi Athletic stadium over the next three days.

Lack of information on the starting list and competing athletes have left the athletic officials a confused lot. The only certainity is the 73-member Indian contingent, including Neelam J Singh, Saraswati Saha and Shakti Singh.

But if every thing goes off well, national record holder Anil Kumar will get to compete with Fredericks, winner of three Olympics silver medals. The 36-year-old Namibian, who this week denied reports that he is quitting after the All Africa Games in Abuja, Nigeria, finished second in 100 and 200 in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and also won the 200m silver four years later in Atlanta.

He also reigned supreme at Abuja winning the sprint titles.

Similar would be Dibaba's entry in the women's 5000m. The Ethiopian became the youngest ever winner in a World Championship when she won in Paris recording a time of 14 minutes, 51.72 seconds.

The Indian national record is in the name of Sunita Rani who timed 15:41.40 seconds in 1998 in Bangalore.

But it is almost certain that the Asian dominance would be prounounced though China, Japan and Korea, the continental powers have fielded their second string athletes here.

Another star attraction would be Ethiopian Sileshi Sihine who picked up the men's 10,000m bronze medal in Paris behind super star compatriots Kenenisa Bekele and Haile Gebrselassie.

Sihine clocked 27:01.44 in Paris while the Asian record is 27:18.28.

Competing in her first event after her historic win in Paris, Anju George should be a cinch for the gold medal in long jump and also in triple jump, if she competes.

The Custom's Superintendent has not competed in triple jump after the National Circuit Meet in New Delhi in 2002 in her effort to concentrate in long jump.

Neelam J Singh, who became the first Indian to qualify for a final of the World Championship in Paris with an effort that measured 60.33 metres, also stands a good chance to win the gold considering that she won the Asian Games gold in Busan recording 64.55m.

Sunita Rani, slowly making a come back after the doping trial that followed her from Busan, has a fair chance of collecting a medal in both 1500 and 3000 metre races.

Though things would be much tougher for the hosts in the 400m and 800m as the expected field is expected to be a few rungs above the Indian standards K M Beenamol and her younger brother K M Binu are capable of springing surprises.

First Published: Oct 27, 2003 18:43 IST