Will the athletes get closer to the qualifying marks for the World Championship? That will be a major point of interest in the second Indian Grand Prix athletics, in the serene atmosphere of the National Institute of Sports (NIS) here on Saturday.
With high intensity training, it may be difficult for the athletes to be at their competitive best, but some of them have been able to impress with their relatively fabulous start in the first meet.
Of course, it was anti-climactic that the timing of 13 minutes15 seconds for the 5000 metres men’s race had to be dismissed, as it was pretty close to the ‘A’ standard for the World Championship, as Kheta Ram and company was understood to have had run a lap short.
It will be interesting to see how well the officials stay alert in timing the 5000 metres this time, as the ‘B’ standard of 13 minutes 20.00 seconds may itself be an intimidating ask, particularly given that the field expected to remain the same.
There was no doubt that Renjith Maheswary looked good as he leaped to 16.67 metres in triple jump. If he pushes himself a bit more, he can get closer to the ‘B’ qualifying standard of 16.85 metres, a mark well within reach considering his national record of 17.07, set in 2010.
Om Prakash was the other Olympian who had looked energetic in winning the shot put with a throw of 18.12 metres. He had reached a national record of 20.69 last year, and will need a throw of 20.10 to achieve the ‘B’ standard for the World Championship.
A string of young athletes had done well in various events, and it will be interesting to see how well they cope with the challenge of matching athletes of proven calibre.
The National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) had looked quite thorough in going through the drill of testing the athletes, and that may make the connoisseurs feel happy when good performances float above the mundane fare.
There is no doubt that most of the prominent athletes had skipped the first Grand Prix and may continue to do so, as a lot of them depend on international competition to improve their standard and reach the qualification marks. Or, at least train for some more time, before they come out to compete.
With the third Grand Prix having been postponed, owing to the forthcoming Annual General Meeting of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), the athletes may have one meet less before the four-day Federation Cup scheduled to be staged at the NIS here about a fortnight later.
Ideally, the athletes may step up a bit more in the second Grand Prix towards tuning themselves to their best in the Federation Cup.
Men: 200m, 400, 800, 5000, 400 hurdles, triple jump, shot put, javelin throw.
Women: 200, 400, 800, 5000, long jump.