The best athletes of India will take part in the four-day Federation Cup which starts from today in Patiala. However, a few star performers like Neeraj Chopra and others will miss out the Championship which acts as a qualification round for the Asian Athletics Championships to be held in Doha.
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has made it mandatory for all the athletes to participate in the Federation Cup Senior National Athletics Championship, except those exempted, if they wish to get selected for the Asian Championships. However, a final call on the matter will be taken by the selection committee, reported PTI.
The Commonwealth and Asian Games gold medallist - javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra - has been granted exemption from participation as he is currently training in South Africa since January 12, 2019. The national record holder in long jump M Shreeshankar will also miss the event as he is injured, whereas Tejaswin Shankar, a high jumper from Delhi, will not compete due to a clash with her examination dates.
Among those who are making a return this year are Davinder Singh Kang, the javelin thrower and Inderjeet Singh, the shot-putter, after being cleared of doping charges.
The championship presents a mouth-watering contest as many star performers who are the favourites for various events will also take part. In Heptathlon, a struggle is expected between Swapna Barman, the Asian Games gold medallist from Bengal and Purnima Hembram of Odisha. In the women’s 100m, Dutee Chand is expected to reach the finish line first, whereas, in 200m, she will face tough competition from Hima Das.
Ayyasamy Dharun is expected to emerge victorious in the 400m as he competes with Muhammad Anas Yahiya, Arokia Rajiv, Sachin Roby and Muhammad Kunhu. But the women’s 400m event will be the most exciting event with Hima Das, MR Poovamma and VK Vismaya all pitted against each other.
A three-way contest among Jinson Johnson, Manjit Singh and Ajay Kumar Saroj is expected in the men’s 1500m. Similarly, women’s 1500m is also expected to be a three-pronged tussle between Lili Das, PU Chitra and Archana Adhav.
In the women’s long jump, Neena Pinto and Nayana James are strong contenders of winning the gold while in men’s triple jump, Arpinder Singh, the Asian Games gold-medallist is expected to emerge victorious. In the long-distance doubles of 5000m and 10,000m, Govindan Lakshmanan, Asian Championship gold medallist will start as the favourite.
Tajinder Singh Toor, the national record holder in shot put, should be able to clinch the gold easily. S Siva, the defending champion and national record holder in pole vault is the favourite to win the event. In the women’s javelin throw, Annu Rani, again the national record holder will be the favourite by a huge margin.
The Fed Cup, which is scheduled between March 15 to March 18 in Patiala, acts as a selection trial for the Asian Athletics Championship 2019 which will be held in Qatar’s Doha, where India will be the defending champions after their triumph in the 2017 edition in Bhubaneswar.
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