Murali Sreeshankar and Avinash Sable only superstars to participate at National Games
The next National Games will feature a host of track and field superstars, including steeplechaser Avinash Sable and long jumper Murali Sreeshankar, with athletics expected to be the largest contingent of competitors among the 36 disciplines. Gujarat will host the Games starting on September 29.
There are still a few elite athletes competing in the multi-sport event, staged after a seven-year hiatus, despite the absence of Gold medalist javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra and triple jump gold medalist Eldhose Paul. Uttar Pradesh will be represented by Annu Rani, the first female javelin thrower from India to receive a medal (bronze) in the CWG. Hima Das and Dutee Chand, two prominent female sprinters, will compete for Assam and Odisha, respectively.
In the most recent Kerala National Games in 2015, Dutee took home gold in the 100-meter race and bronze in the 200-meter race. Hima intends to compete for her first medal in the National Games. Amlan Borgohain of Assam, who recently broke the men's 100-meter national record in a race sponsored by the Railways, and Jyothi Yarraji of Andhra Pradesh, who holds the women's 100-meter hurdles record, are both competing in the Olympics.
Based on their success in National Games, athletes can automatically qualify for the 2023 World Championships in Hungary.
"Yes, I am taking part in the National Games," Sreeshankar told PTI.
Sreeshankar can attempt to surpass the 8.25m qualification requirement for the World Championships during the Games, according to his father S Murali. The qualifying season for the World Championships runs from July 31, 2022, to July 30, 2023. Sreeshankar, a 23-year-old from Kerala, earned silver with an 8.08-meter leap at the Birmingham CWG last month. His 8.36m personal best was achieved in April.
Sable, who took home a silver medal from the CWG in Birmingham, will compete in the Games, which will take place in many Gujarati cities, according to a representative of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI). Since 1994, the 28-year-old Sable is the first non-Kenyan to win a medal at the CWG.
Paul won't compete in the Games, though, according to their coach Harikrishnan, along with Abdullah Aboobacker of Kerala, who finished second in the India's 1-2 finish in the Birmingham CWG and won silver. Out of the 36 sports, athletics is likely to draw the largest crowd with more than 600 competitors. That would equal about 10% of the Games' overall participant base, which is most likely to be close to 7000.
Six Gujarati cities—Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, and Bhavnagar—are hosting the games. From September 30 to October 4, the IIT Gandhinagar Ground will host track and field competitions.