Mangaluru, May 01, 2015: The 19th Federation Cup National Senior Athletics Championship 2015, now on at Mangala Stadium here, is being looked at as the selection meet for the Asian Championships next month in Wuhan, China.
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) couldn’t publish a list of norms in advance and only on the eve of the meet it tentatively staed, that the third-place finish at the last Asian Championship in Pune will be the bench mark to be considered. According to norms of the AFI, it may be assumed in the coming days there will emerge some aim however tough. Athletes on the track at the Mangala Stadium, the home of track and field in this region.
After the National Games last season, it has been a time of quiet preparation for the athletes. Despite coming at an unwelcome time, there were several highs at the National Games but the rescheduling of the Indian Grand Prix series has delayed the start of the new season, leaving the athletes with just one competition before the Asian meet.
Even with limited opportunity at hand, many have chosen to skip the season-opener due to various reasons. Asian Games discus champion Seema Antil - preparing to go abroad for training -- is among those missing out while O P Jaisha, who dominated the long distance events at Thiruvananthapuram, is also away, after deciding to focus on marathon. Steeplechaser Sudha Singh, triple jumper Renjith Maheswary and middle-distance runner Sajeesh Joseph too figure in the list of absentees, perhaps feeling their preparation is not good enough to warrant a presence here. For cream of the atheletes who have made it to Mangaluru, there are bigger goals to aim at - qualification for the World Championships and the Olympic Games - apart from the Asian meet.
The qualifying period for the Worlds is from October 2014; while for the Olympics, May 1 marks the start of the journey, even though not many among the 800-strong field here are even capable of dreaming about it such is the poor state of Indian sport. .
Men’s track events has no power, Arokia Rajiv, the 400M bronze winner at the Asian Games, being the leading light here, with his main rival, P Kunhumohammad not in fray. Long-jumper Ankit Sharma, who went past the eight-metre barrier with an 8.04M leap at Thiruvananthapuram, and triple jumper Arpinder Singh, who set a national record of 17.17M last year, demand attention in the jumps. Kumarvel Premkumar, another in the 8M club, is absent, having decided to train in the United States.
Discus thrower Vikas Gowda is also training and competing in the United States, the focus in the throws will be limited to the shot put ring where Inderjeet Singh and Om Prakash Singh Karhana are capable of going past the 20M mark. Inderjeet is the man in form, with a 20.14M at the National Games.
Among the women’s Dutee Chand, having gained more time from the Court of Arbitration for Sport, will get a chance to further push the boundaries in sprints while M R Poovamma will be in spotlight in the 400M. Poovamma is, of course, the firm favourite but more significantly, she will be competing in front of her home crowd, looking to put in an impressive show.
Poovamma who wears the ONGC badge, is unlikely to be tested if she is at her best. Anilda Thomas, who ran an impressive time at the National Games, is missing while the presence of Tintu Luka adds interest. Tintu’s main focus remains the 800M, where she already holds a qualifying time for the World Championships. The two-lap race will offer evidence of her progress before bigger meets, the P T Usha- candidate ran 2:01.86 at Thiruvananthapuram.
Lalita Babar, who ran a time of 9:42.62 in the 3000M steeplechase at the National Games, needs to be watched while in the field, the participation of Mayookha Johny triggers interest in long jump, where the Indian standards have dipped badly in recent times. From the Karnataka point of view, decathlete Abhishek Shetty is the best bet in the men’s events while team captain Sahana Kumari leads the quest among women, targeting another gold in high jump. Sahana has six Federation Cup gold medals in her bag and a seventh one will certainly be a prize for her perseverance.