The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) junior talent identification programme will start from June 20 across the country, says AFI president Adille Sumariwalla. “The AFI has shortlisted more than 900 athletes in the age group of under U14 and U16 for a fortnight assessment camp starting next week at six different locations,” Adille Sumariwalla explained. “The athletes were selected through talent identification programme during the 2023 National Inter District Junior Athletics Meet held earlier in Patna.”
Patiala (Punjab), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Patna (Bihar), Gandhinagar (Gujarat), Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) and Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) are the six venues where fortnight camp will be conducted. The camps will be funded by Rural Electrification Corporation Limited, the AFI president added.
The assessment camp, says Adille Sumariwalla, will be fun and play. “The basic goal during the camp will be to test budding athletes’ overall general fitness and aptitude towards sports,” the AFI president added. “The process to formulate a new junior programme is in the pipeline.”
The AFI also announced the appointment of Nagapuri Ramesh, a senior Sports Authority of India (SAI) athletics coach as head of its junior athletics team. According to Adille Sumariwalla the percentage of juniors graduating to the senior level is miniscule three percent. “Ramesh experience will greatly contribute to the AFI junior development programme,” he added.
The AFI president said, the five-day 62nd national inter-state senior athletics championship that will conclude on June 19 in Bhubaneswar will act as a final selection for next month’s Asian Athletics as well as Hangzhou Asian Games.
Regarding humid conditions in Bhubaneswar at this time of the year, the AFI president said despite warm conditions there have been excellent performances in some events particularly the women’s 1500m race. “The top three competitors ran a superb race and dipped below the Asian Games qualification time of 4:15.49 seconds. The eventual winner KM Deeksha clocked 4:06.07 secs,” AFI president added. “The local weather conditions were warm at the 2022 Oregon World Athletics Championships.”
The athletes must get used to different weather conditions to excel at the international level, Adille Sumariwall said. “The athletes might encounter similar conditions like Bhubaneswar in Bangkok during the July 12 to 16 Asian Athletics Championship,” the AFI president added.