Time for some serious action

Time for some serious action

Chance for top talents to assess their preparedness ahead of Asian meet

The 51st Senior Inter-State Championships, beginning at the Sree Kanteerava stadium on Saturday, as such will be an opportunity to assess where the country’s top talents stand as they gear up for the continental challenge next month.

After the National Games in February, the athletes hit the track only in May with the two Indian Grands Prix and the three-leg Asian Grand Prix giving them a taste of the competition.

But the results were far from encouraging in the Indian Grand Prix meets while the Asian competitions saw the Indians hitting a new low.Barring Mayookha Johny’s record-breaking effort, there were few sparks of brilliance and the Athletics Federation of India and the country’s athletics buffs would certainly be wondering where the medals will come from at the Asian Championships next month in Kobe, Japan.

While the Bangalore bash will certainly offer a peek into their current form, the signs are not at all encouraging.

In terms of competition, Mayookha will certainly be the one to watch out for, especially after her consistent display at the Asian Grand Prix, while the return of Krishna Poonia and the long-distance duel between Preeja Sreedharan and Kavita Raut will be the other points of interest. Also in the  spotlight will be Asian Games champion AC Ashwini, 800M bronze medallist Tintu Luka — making a comeback after an injury-induced break — and 400M hurdler Joseph Abraham, another Asiad champion.

Mayookha, who set a national triple jump record of 14.02 metres in Wunjiang during the Asian Grand Prix meet, had stated her intention to focus on long jump here, with a view to gaining a qualification spot for the World Championships as well as the Olympic Games. With a personal best of 6.64 metres, Mayookha just needs to add another centimetre to achieve the qualification norm and with her friend and rival MA Prajusha to push her here, it should well be within her range.

Big performance
Commonwealth Games gold medallist Krishna is on her way back from a knee injury and is not targeting a big performance here, but discus throw needs a big heave soon from the champion to pull it out of mediocrity.

National record holder Seema Antil, who struggled to cross 50M in the Asian Grand Prix series, will miss this event, as she got an opportunity to train in the US under Max Wilkins, who had coached Krishna last year.

Preeja and Kavita raised the bar spectacularly in 10000M and 5000M last year but with their coach Nikolai Snesarev departing India, their training has taken a hit this year.
Preeja had been the better of the two when they met at the Asian Games but Kavita replied with a double at the National Games, and after topping the Indian segment of the World 10K last Sunday, she will be gunning for the Asiad champion’s scalp this time.
Tintu has been struggling with hamstring problems after the Asian Games but after regaining fitness, she will get an opportunity to come close to her performances last season when she set a national record of 1:59.17 in the 800 metres. Tintu also has a long season in front, with the World Championships her main aim this season and the P T Usha-ward said she was looking at a bright beginning. Triple jumper Renjith Maheswary, another Asian medal hope, is also expected to make an appearance after making changes to his technique but the athlete said he wasn’t ready for a big one yet.
Hurdler Abraham, who became a father recently, is among those seriously challenging a qualification time (49.80 seconds) but said he was expecting it only later in the season. “It will take some more time for me to be ready for a strong show,” said Abraham, who has a best of 49.51 seconds, set at the Osaka World Championships in 2007.

Hurdles champ Ashwini, recovering from a wrist injury, has been entered in the 400M and will lead Karnataka’s challenge here. Javelin thrower, Kashinath Naik, bronze medallist at the Commonwealth Games, and sprinter Rebecca Jose are the other Karnataka medal hopes here while young high jumper Harshith, with a best of 2.10M, will also look to soar higher.

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