Top Indian track and field athletes will be in action during five-day domestic meeting in Bhubaneswar

Bhubaneswar (Odisha)

Top Indian track and field athletes aspiring for a berth at the Budapest World Athletics Championships and Hangzhou Asian Games will have a good chance to prove themselves during the 62nd National Inter State Senior Athletics Championships starting Thursday, says chief athletics coach Radhakrishnan Nair.

The five-day major domestic competition will be held at Bhubaneswar’s eight-lane Kalinga Stadium.

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) also plans to send a big contingent of 60 athletes to compete at the July 12 to 16 Asian Athletics Championship scheduled to be held in Bangkok, Thailand, the Radhakrishnan Nair added.

“The five-day domestic national meet in Bhubaneswar will act as a last qualification for the continental competition in Thailand,” the chief athletics coach said.

On the opening day medals in four events will be decided. However, the main focus will be the 400m heats in both men and women’s sections. “We have three male runners who are capable of racing quarter-mile below 46 seconds,” Radhakrishnan Nair added. “We are hopeful of having a strong men’s 4x400m relay team.”

The chief coach says the process of building the women’s 4x400m relay squad is on the cards.

According to Radhakrishnan Nair India’s 2020 Tokyo Olympic javelin throw champion Neeraj Chopra and steeplechase specialist Avinash Sable will not compete in the next month’s Asian Athletics Championship scheduled to be held in Bangkok, Thailand as the main focus is world championship.

“Due to packed 2023 season both the athletes (Neeraj Chopra and Avinash Sable) are competing in selected events this year as the emphasis is podium finish at the August 19 to 27 Budapest World Athletics Championships in Hungary,” Radhakrishnan Nair said, adding, after the World Athletics Championships the next goal will be Hangzhou Asian Games in September.

Avinash Sable is currently practicing in Colorado Springs in the USA, while Neeraj Chopra is based in Zurich, Switzerland to prepare for the Budapest World Athletics Championship.

Three weeks ago, India’s star javelin thrower sustained lower leg injury and pulled out of international events, including Paavo Nurmi Games scheduled for June 13.

Updating on Neeraj Chopra’s rehabilitation and recovery, chief athletics coach says he has started training but yet to recover from the injury. “He (Neeraj Chopra) started his training last week and should be in good health by the end of this month,” the chief athletics coach added.

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI), says the chief athletics coach could send the entry of four javelin throwers to compete at the 2023 World Athletics Championship. While Neeraj Chopra has got a wild card entry, there is a provision to send three athletes more in javelin if they achieve a qualification mark of 85.20m.

Meanwhile, all necessary arrangements have been done for the smooth conduct of the important domestic competition, says the chief athletics coach. “The Odisha government has provided all the support, including boarding and lodging to the athletes,” the chief athletics coach added.