The National Inter-State Athletics Senior Championships, which begin on Friday in Chennai, will provide an opportunity for individuals who are battling to recover their forms and establish a claim in the Indian squad for the CWG. Senior names like Neeraj Chopra and Avinash Sable won't participate.
Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra would not participate, while Avinash Sable, the 'record holder' in the 3000m steeplechase, is also unlikely to compete, despite his name appearing on the list of competitors. According to sources close to Sable, he will skip the five-day event.
His native state of Maharashtra was unable to ascertain if he will take a flight to India given his training camp in Colorado Springs, USA. Sable completed a fifth in the Diamond League Meeting in Morocco on Sunday with a time of 8:12.48, beating his own national record for the eighth time. His training assignment there was recently extended till July 24 by the Sports Ministry.
Athletes can also make another last attempt to meet the qualifying requirements for the July 15-24 World Championships in Eugene, USA, since this is the final big event before the AFI selects the roster for the CWG in Birmingham from July 28 to August 8.
Over 600 athletes will be competing from all over India to finish first. Sri Lanka has also dispatched an 11-member contingent. The crème of Indian athletics will be present, with the exception of Chopra and potentially Sable, as well as those recovering from ailments.
The experienced Hima Das, Dutee Chand, Seema Punia, Annu Rani, Jyothi Yarraji from the women's side, and men's campaigners M Sreeshankar, Tajinderpal Singh Toor, and Muhammed Anas Yahiya are also attending.
Chopra, the first Indian track and field athlete to earn Olympic gold, is presently training in Europe and will compete in a big-ticket event in Finland on June 14 against some of the finest in the world.
During her training and competition trip to Europe last month, Andhra athlete Jyothi smashed the national record in the 100m hurdles three times. She'll be in the limelight as she tries to break the 13-second barrier. Her most recent national record is 13.04. Her coach, James Hillier, has stated that qualifying for the World Championships in the 12.80s will not be simple, but it will be on her radar.
Amlan Borgohain of Assam, another Hillier ward, will be hoping to earn a spot in the CWG team after setting a national record in the 200m (20.52s) in the Federation Cup in April. During his latest European tour, though, he wasn't even at his best.
Three members of the 8m club are ready to rekindle their battle in the long jump pit, which will be one of the main attractions. Murali Sreeshankar (NR 8.36m), the national record holder, has put his Olympics catastrophe behind him and is the favorite following a European campaign in which he reached 8.31m in Greece. Jeswin Aldrin (8.20m PB) and Mohammed Anees (8.20m PB) will be his main rivals (8.15m PB).
Hima and S Dhanalakshmi, coming from a nearly two-month training/competition trip in Turkey, will be vying for a spot in the CWG squad as well as a chance to qualify for the World Championships.
The 100m final between Hima and Dutee Chand will be among the most anticipated events of the championships, with veteran Srabani Nanda also competing. Dhanalakshmi, who just a few days ago defeated Hima in a competition in Europe, has not joined the 100m sprint. However, Dhanalakshmi will face Hima in the 200m, whereas Dutee, despite being an Asian Games silver medalist, will not compete in that event.
New and thrilling MR Poovamma, Jisna Mathew, and Vismaya VK will face off against Priya Mohan, Rupal Choudhary, and Kiran Pahal.
Aishwarya Mishra, who stunned many by clocking 51.18s at the Federation Cup in April and avoiding dope tests, has also put her name (according to the AFI list) in the 200m and 400m from Maharashtra.
Tajinderpal Singh Toor, the Asian record holder, would be among those eager to return to the saddle following an injury hiatus. Seema Punia, a 38-year-old discus thrower who has four medals in the CWG — three silver and one bronze — would want to compete in the Birmingham Games and for the fifth time, finish with a medal.
Sudha Singh, 35, will compete in the women's 3000m steeplechase after receiving the prestigious Padma Shri award last year. According to the local organizers, the Tamil Nadu Athletics Association, dope testers from the National Anti-Doping Agency came to Chennai a day before the meeting due to the importance of the event in light of the impending World Championships and CWG.