“The biggest culprit is India,” said the Secretary of the Asian Athletics Association (AAA), Maurice Nicholas, on Tuesday about the uncertainty surrounding the list of participants in the fifth Asian All Stars athletics meet to be held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on June 30 and July 1.
Speaking over phone from Singapore, Nicholas was responding to the criticism that the AAA website was preventing users from accessing the site because of a ‘malware’ warning and there was hardly any information available regarding participation in the Almaty meet.
“It is India which always creates problems. They give 10 names, cut out seven later, add three more and then delete some more; this exercise keeps on going,” Nicholas told The Hindu.
“The host has been preparing PTAs (prepaid ticket advice) and cancelling them.
“They do suffer financial losses. Even today no one knows who are coming from India,” said Nicholas.
Bereft of champions
The All Stars, an invitation meet, designed to accommodate the ‘cream’ of Asia in select events, is finding it difficult to attract the best.
With Olympic Games round the corner, even the regulars have skipped this time.
Barring Joseph Abraham (400m hurdles) and Svetlana Radzivil of Uzbekistan (women’s high jump) there is no Asian Games champion in the field.
Except for woman athletes Guzel Khubbieva of Uzbekistan (100m) and Truong Thanh Hang of Vietnam (800m) there is no Asian champion either.
On Tuesday, as per entry lists made available by AAA, with some slots expected to be filled up by home athletes, there were just two sprinters left in the men’s 100m, Iranian Reza Ghazemi and Uzbekistan's Doston Saydaliev, both 10.50-plus runners. Twenty-three runners in Asia have cracked 10.40 so far this season.
Most of the other events had just four or five athletes with a few late home entries expected to enlarge fields.
The 100m, 400m, 400m hurdles, high jump and triple jump are scheduled in both sections. Additionally, men will have 1500m, long jump and shot put while women will have 800m and 100m hurdles.
There are no Chinese, Japanese, Bahrain, Qatari or Korean athletes in the list of entries. India had originally planned to send a team of 13, but four athletes withdrew.
There is no guarantee that the nine left in the batch will eventually make it.
Triple jumper Renjith Maheswary and long jumper Ankit Sharma, now in Italy on a training programme, withdrew for no apparent reason.
Sharma is yet to qualify for the Olympics.
Sinimole Paulose opted for Western Europe rather than the 1500m altitude of Almaty for an attempt at Olympic qualification in the 1500m.
Jithin Paul, 400m hurdler, was reportedly injured.
Lack of substance
Unless Asian record holder and season leader Olga Rypakova (personal best 15.25m, season best 14.73m) enters the fray to boost home morale, women’s triple jump will lack substance with Indian M.A. Prajusha (SB 13.66) and only two other jumpers, Malaysian Noor Amira Mohamad Nafiah (SB 13.57) and Vietnamese Tran Huy Hoa (SB 13.37), in the fray.
Apart from Truong, a 2:00.91 runner, Tintu Luka may have just Uzbek Anna Sidorova to contend with in the four-woman 800m field, unless Asian leader for the season, Kazakhstan’s Margarita Mukasheva (1:59.79) is brought in as a late home entry.
The Kosanov memorial international meet will be held concurrently with the All Stars.