The 2012 London Olympics, by all evidence, was a disaster for Indian athletics. There were some notable if not outstanding performances by a few such as Vikas Gowda, Krishna Poonia (discus throw) and K.T. Irfan (20km walk).
Not even a month has passed after the Games and the athletes will have no choice but to put aside their disappointments and focus on the four-day Rajalakshmi Institutions-National athletics meet set to begin at the Nehru Stadium here on Monday. Barring discus thrower Vikas Gowda, all top athletes will be taking part in the meet.
800m runner Tintu Luka, discus throwers, Krishna Poonia and Seema Antil, triple jumpers, Renjith Maheswary and Mayookha Johny, Om Prakash Singh (shot put) and walkers — Gurmeet Singh and K.T. Irfan — will be the star attractions.
The Open Nationals return to the city after a gap of 11 years; Chennai last hosted the Nationals in the year 2001 with the others being held in 1972, 1989 and 1994.
Traditional rivals Railways and Services will make the competition lively. However, in the last edition held in Kolkata, Railways emerged the champion while ONGC pipped Services for the second place.
In a significant move, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) is introducing “qualification rounds” for men’s field events in order to cope up with the huge number of entries in the Chennai meet.
AFI is also contemplating to hold “final trials” ahead of all major International meets. “This is to avoid athletes making the qualification mark outside the country. However, this will be discussed in the Executive Committee meeting in New Delhi on September 29 and 30,” said C.K. Valson, Secretary, AFI, on Sunday.
Host Tamil Nadu is fielding a 54-member team. Long jumper K. Prem Kumar and hurdler G. Gayathri (making a comeback after two years) will be the stars to watch out for from the host team.
Keywords: National athletics meet