A record number of athletes and nations will compete in the 20t{+h}Asian athletics championships to be held in Pune from July 3 to 7.

The meet, coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the Asian Athletics Association (AAA) ,has drawn entries from 43 of the 45 member nations, the AAA announced on its website on Wednesday. A total of 580 athletes, including 220 women, would be seen in action.

India, as host country, has the maximum number of entries, with a 108-member strong contingent. The meet is being held in the country for the second time since New Delhi hosted the championships in 1989.

Sources told The Hindu that though the released entry list does not include those from Laos and Turkmenistan, the list is likely to undergo a change in the next couple of days as efforts were on to reconfirm the participation of these two countries.

“We, in fact, have entries from these countries, but it has been held back as the travel plans of the athletes from both Laos and Turkmenistan have not been received till date. Anyway, a final picture is expected to emerge by Friday.”

Belying calculations

Belying initial calculations that most of the top athletes would stay away from the meet on account of the World championships to be held in Moscow from August 10 to 18, it is now evident from the entry list that the action at the Shiv Chhattrapati stadium in Balewadi would be a classy one.

Prominent among those who figure in the list includes many of the season leaders of the continent, including Youssef A. Al-Masrahi (Saudi Arabia, 400m), Abdulrahman Musaeb Balla (Qatar, 800m), Mutaz Essa Barshim (Qatar, high jump), Roman Valiyev (Kazakhstan, triple jump), Chang Ming-Huang (Taipei, shot put), Vikas Gowda (India, discus throw), Dishod Nazarov (Tajikistan, hammer throw) and Dmitriy Karpov (Kazakhstan, decathlon).

Among women, the top performers of the year who have confirmed their participation in the Pune event include Wei Yungli (China, 100m and 200m), Bahrain’s Mimi Belete (1500m) and Shitaye Eshete (5000m), Sudha Singh (India, 3000m steeple chase), Hitomi Shimura (Japan, 100m hurdles), Li Ling (China, pole vault), Saeko Okayama (Japan, long jump) and Anastasiya Juravlyeva (Uzebikstan, triple jump).

The meet will be preceded by the AAA Congress on July 1.

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