Curtain raiser Uttar Pradesh Promising pole vaulter Kuldeep Kumar is all ready to scale new heights in Lucknow


Uttar Pradesh’s promising pole vaulter, Kuldeep Kumar, is all ready to showcase his potential during the three-day 22nd National Junior U20 Federation Athletics Championships starting Friday here at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Center. The competition concludes March 10.

The Lucknow competition will be the last event for budding athletes to earn a ticket to next month’s 21st Asian U20 Junior Athletics Championships scheduled to be held in Dubai from April 24 to 27.

For the past two years, Kuldeep Kumar, has been quite consistent in pole vault in the age group category. The international pole vaulter from Varanasi had scaled a height of 5.17 in November last to better 5.10m qualification criteria set by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) for the continental competition. “My training has been on expected lines,” Yadav said of his preparation for the Lucknow meet. “Hopefully I should be able to scale new heights in Lucknow.”

At the third Khelo India University Games held last year in Lucknow, he finished second with a height of 4.80m.

Kuldeep Kumar has to sustain his efforts of 5.17m in Lucknow to stay on course to win a gold medal and a berth to Asian U20 meet.

However, on his way to the gold medal he will face a stiff challenge from Madhya Pradesh’s Dev Meena, whose gold medal winning performance at the 2023 Goa National Games was 5.16m. Kuldeep Kumar finished second in Goa with a height of 5m.

As many as 40 budding athletes were successful in breaching AFI qualification standards in their respective events for the Asian U20 meet in 2023 in different competitions.

Apart from Yadav, Anurag Kaler (shot put) and Rohan Yadav (javelin) are the other two potential athletes from Uttar Pradesh who are eagerly looking forward to the Lucknow competition and book flights to Dubai.

“Based on the 2023 results we have prepared a tentative list of potential athletes but they all have to prove themselves in Lucknow,” N Ramesh, chief junior athletics coach said. “The final team for the Asian meet will be shortlisted by the AFI selection committee.”

As usual the opening event will be 10,000m in the morning session. There are as many as seven finals on Day-One of the competition.

On day two, athletes will battle for medals in 16 finals and 13 finals are slated for final and third. A total of 644 athletes, including 433 male have confirmed their participation.