Eyes on Poovamma at Indian GP

Eyes on Poovamma at Indian GP

The domestic athletics season is set to kick off with the first Indian Grand Prix at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Sunday, with the focus firmly on Olympic qualification.

Ten events for men and nine for women comprise the card in the one-day meet, which hopes to present an opportunity for a clutch of athletes to meet the qualifying norms for the Olympic Games.

For those who have already made the grade -- 22 of them have attained the marks so far -- the Grand Prix has little to offer, with their events — barring men’s and women’s shot put and men’s discus throw — not part of the programme.

Many of the leading lights are abroad as part of their preparations, including a clutch of jumpers who are training in South Africa.

Among those who are here, 400M runners MR Poovamma and Arokia Rajiv will be looking to kick off their quest for an Olympic berth in strong fashion. With the Asian Athletics Association deciding to cancel the Asian Grand Prix series this year, the two quartermilers have to rely on the domestic competitions, including next week’s Federation Cup, to meet the standards.

Poovamma will have to time 52.20 or better to make it to Rio while Arokia Rajiv, who had a very good last season, needs to touch 45.40.

Discus thrower Krishna Poonia, the first Indian woman to win a gold in athletics at the Commonwealth Games, will be making a comeback in New Delhi. Poonia, who finished sixth in the 2012 London Olympics, is returning to action after a gap of two years, post-surgery. The standard in women’s discus is 61 metres.

The javelin throwers, who are training under Australian coach Gary Calvert, will also be in focus while M A Prajusha and Renjith Maheswari lead the list among jumpers.

Events on Sunday: Men: 100M, 400M, 1500M, 3000M, Long jump, Triple jump; High jump; Shot put; Javelin, Discus.

Women: 100M, 400M, 1500M, 3000M, Long jump, Triple jump, Shot put, Javelin throw, Discus.

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