Holders Kerala start favourites

Holders Kerala start favourites

With the cream of junior talent from 26 States competing in 121 events, exciting contests are on the cards. Indian athletics is on a high after the stupendous show at the Asian Games, and expectations are that the youngsters will also raise their performances to stake their claim as the country’s future prospects.

Athletes from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Haryana and West Bengal are expected to dominate the four-day meet. But Karnataka, who won five gold, six silver and eight bronze medals in the last edition at Warangal, could be a potent force if they utilise home advantage to good effect.

“We will surely better our performance of last year. We can easily win more than 25 medals,” said a confident Karnataka coach Vasanta Kumar on the eve of the championship.

For that, Nirupama Sunderraj (girls’ U-18, 100M and 200M), Harshith M (boys’ U-18, high jump) and Rebecca Jose (girls’ U-20, 100 and 200), among others, will have to be at their best. Rebecca’s participation might be limited to the 4x100M relay only as she returned from Guangzhou only on Monday.

With 13 successive titles under their belt and a strong 144-member squad, Kerala start hot favourites to retain the team championship. But the defending champions have been weakened by the withdrawal of a few of their prominent names due to inter-school and inter-collegiate meets.

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