Navjeet Kaur Dhillon won the women’s shot put bronze on the opening day of the 16th Asian junior athletics championship in Taipei City, Chinese Taipei, on Thursday.
The 19-year-old Navjeet won the medal with her sixth throw of 14.99m that saw her pull ahead of Mina Lee (Korea), Aya Ota (Japan) and Ru-Ching Chiang (Chinese Taipei).
The gold and silver medals were bagged by China’s Jia-Qi Xu (16.50m) and Ning-Yue Wang (15.05m).
Sanjivini Jadhav was fifth in the women’s 5000m with a time of 17 minutes 00.75 seconds, while Maki Izumida of Japan won with a time of 16:18.35.
Prakash Singh (60.34m) and Kapil Mann (59.20m) were sixth and seventh respectively in the men’s hammer throw that was won by Ashraf Amgad Elseify of Qatar with 79.71m.
Anuj Singh cleared 4.50m in the men’s pole vault to place 11th among 12 athletes, while Bo-Kai Huang of China won the gold with 5.25m.
Navjeet’s bronze was in fact a silver lining for the Indian contingent, considering the fact that medal hopefuls like sprinter Dutee Chand had missed out on a chance to participate in one of her events, thanks to a monumental blunder by the Athletics Federation of India.
With the events beginning on Thursday morning, the 41-member Indian squad arrived in Taipei City only on Wednesday night after the Federation had lost time in applying for Chinese visas for the athletes instead of Chinese Taipei’s.
With the women’s 100m scheduled for the morning, there was no way that World junior finalist Dutee, and Himashree Roy could have competed in the event.
Dutee has been running the 100 well, and had clocked 11.62 seconds at the World junior championship in Ukraine last year and 11.63 at the Federation Cup junior meet in Chennai more recently.
In the semifinals, the best timing for 100m women in Taipei City was 11.80 by Qi-Qi Yuan of China.
Dutee will now wait for her chance in the 200m in which is national champion with a personal best of 23.72 seconds.
Two Indian decathletes Ankit Saini and Amolak Singh also missed out on participation as five events of the decathlon were scheduled on the opening day of the four-day meet. In the process, the competition was reduced to three athletes, including two from the host nation.
Shockingly, the AFI had applied for Chinese visas on June 6 through VFS Global, an agency which operates in 111 countries but not Chinese Taipei.
“The applications submitted to us were on Chinese visa application forms, and were submitted at the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre,” the agency explained when contacted at its Indian headquarters in Mumbai.
The agency presented the Chinese visa application forms on June 6, and promptly returned them to the AFI when they were returned by the Chinese Embassy on June 9, the following working day.
When the squad, with P.T. Usha as the chief coach and Jyotirmoyee Sikdar as manager, ought to have been flying out two days before the meet, the AFI was busy seeking the Chinese Taipei visas, which eventually led to the squad’s delayed arrival at the venue.
This is not the first time that the AFI is bungling with entries at an international competition. It had entered ineligible athletes, in terms of age, in the last Asian youth championship in Nanjing, China, and, incidentally, Dutee Chand was one of the athletes who had to return without participating.