Special Correspondent

  • Focus will also be on Olympic champion Liu Xiang of China
  • Saif Saaed Shaheen, Koji Morofushi and Xing Hunia will be missing

    DOHA: Seema Antil may be in the news for the wrong reasons, but Anju Bobby George does the balancing act as she provides a clean face of Indian athletics.

    The athletic fraternity will be looking up to the 29-year-old Anju to give the required thrust for the Indian challenge as the track and field events unfold at the Khalifa Stadium here on Friday.

    Out of form

    Though the World championship bronze medallist has been struggling with her form of late with a season's best of 6.54m at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, and 6.53m more recently in Chennai.

    Like the rest of the Indian athletes who have not had any impressive performances in the run-up to the Games, but are still tipped to strike their best when it counts, Anju is also expected to be at her peak form here. Bigger the stage, better for her. Lest we forget, it is one of her favourite venues, as Anju had jumped a wind-aided 6.82m here in 2004.

    Tough task

    For sure, the Indian contingent may not be able to replicate its performance at the last Asiad, when it won seven golds.

    Keen followers of Indian athletics feel that the haul may at best be four this time, though there is also a fear that India may end up with only the relay gold.

    The fact that the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) has been following the Indian athletes around the world has possibly meant that they are the most tested or threatened. Of course, you also have to take into account the regular testing done at the non-accredited SAI laboratory in Delhi, especially before the athletes embark on big ventures like this.

    There are a whole lot of other athletes, Vikas Gowda, Navpreet Singh, Pinki Paramanik, Manjeet Kaur and Krishna Poonia to name a few, who would be out to prove their worth and figure on the podium.

    If you look at the bigger canvas, the focus will be on the world record holder and Olympic champion, Liu Xiang of China, as he attempts to defend the 110m hurdles gold.

    There will also be the likes of the reigning 800m and 1500m world champion Rashid Ramzi, women's high jump defending champion Tatiana Efimenko of Kyrgyzstan, Olympic and world championship medallist decathlete Dmitry Karpov of Kazakhstan and sprint queen Susanthika Jayasinghe of Sri Lanka.

    The absence of world record holder and world champion in 3000m steeplechase, Saif Saaed Shaheen will be strongly felt by host Qatar.

    Other missing stars include hammer throw Olympic champion Koji Morofushi of Japan and the Olympic 10,000m champion Xing Hunia of China.

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