Special Correspondent

MYSORE: The overage issue and the dope scandals have overshadowed Athletic Federation of India’s (AFI) high profile Junior National athletics championship, and the 24th edition of the event set to get underway at the Chamundi Vihar stadium here from the morrow seems no different.

The five-day event has attracted over 1,700 participants from nearly 26 states, which is by far the highest number, but the alarming number of suspect cases with the age issue which is likely to go long into the night, is simply astounding.

With the alarming number of cases, the doctors associated with the AFI refused to continue verification fearing physical attack. The least the local organisers could do was streamline the process to ensure smooth functioning on all quarters.

Overage problem

If age issue is a concern, the dope use at this level cannot be ruled out and the AFI with the state association is providing all facilities to check the serious issue. Another concern for the local organisers is the power shortage with frequent cuts — both scheduled and unscheduled. With this though other emergency needs can be addressed through UPS, the much talked about photo-finish cameras cannot be operated.

The mud tracks, in the age of synthetic surfaces, are a far cry but for the last few years the AFI has compromised on the surface. The mud tracks at the Chamundivihar are fast but will it last the five days is the question on everyone’s lips.

“There was very little time for us after the shift in venue from Shimoga to Bangalore and then to Mysore and every effort has been put to get it in top shape. What we might have to do over the next five days is adequate watering and proper rolling each night,” said AFI Technical Committee chairman C.A. Valsan.

Kerala favourite

Kerala has sent a strong contingent. Tintu Lukas spearheading the challenge with other talented juniors like Sithara, Jitin Paul and Anoop Kerala set to retain its hold on the overall championship trophy.

A good sprinkling of those who did India proud at the Commonwealth Youth Games at Pune last month have turned here like Tamil Nadu’s T. Gayathri, Chandigarh’s triple jump hope Navjot Singh and Asian junior medallist Yogesh figuring in the lists.

Karnataka too has a decent list of medal hopes like Olympian M.R. Poovamma heading the challenge.

Junior National champion Aishwarya (Girls’ under-18 long jump) suffered a hairline fracture during the CYG and is missing this event.

The likes of Nirupama Sunderraj and Rebecca Jose along with K.M Aiyappa and P.S. Santosh are expected to bring in the medals for the hosts.

The championships will be held in four age groups- under 20, under 18, under 16 and under-14 and the next five days will see some exciting actions, conditions permitting.

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