New Delhi: National record holder discus thrower Vikas Gowda will be the main Indian attraction on the opening day of the Asian All-Star Athletics meet.
The two-day event at the newly-laid synthetic tracks at the renovated Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium will be the Commonwealth Games test event for track and field events.
US-based Gowda, with his season`s best of 63.22m, will be the top contender for gold. Syrian Mansour Hamid, who has season`s best of 57.14, is the only other foreigner in the five-man field.
Sri Lanka`s Manjula Kumara Wijesekara, the reigning Asian champion, tops the roster among the men high jumpers. He has to tackle Kazakhstan`s Vitaliy Tsykunov, Asian Indoor Games winner and Doha Asian Games champion Jean-Claude Rabbath of Lebanon for the yellow metal.
In women`s long jump, the Indian trio of M A Prajusha, Mayookha Johny and Reshmi Bose will have to fight out against Uzbekistan`s multi-event specialist Tatyana Konichsheva who had a national record performance of 6.81m registered at Tashkent last month.
China`s Yang Yanbo and Liu Jing are a cut above the rest in the women`s shot put. National record holder Seema Antil is in the fray but she has been struggling of late.
Indian middle distance star Tintu Luka is a strong bet in women`s 800m, as also her teammate Prakash Verma on men`s side. Indian athletes will also be the top draw in women`s 400m with Sini Jose raring to go.
Kuwait`s Fawaz Dahesh Al-Shammari has a point to prove in men`s 110m hurdles. The 33-year-old athlete had won one of the three leg Asian Grand Prix series in Bangalore this year.
With the absence of ace Chinese hurdler Ji Wei, he will have a challenge in the form of Thailand`s South East Asian Games champion Jumrut Rittidet. Incidentally Rittidet finished behind the Kuwaiti in the AGP in India.
Kazakh woman 100m hurdler Anastasiya Soprunova, who made a clean sweep of medals in the AGP with a season`s best 13.31 secs in the Bangalore leg last month, will not take it easy any more.
India`s Gayathry Govindaraj, who posted a national junior best 13.59 sec while taking part in World Junior Championships at Moncton (Canada) hardly a week ago, is all set to push her to the limit.
Indian distance runners Kavita Raut and Preeja Sreedharan, with sub 16 minutes during the Federation Cup in May, look formidable in the women`s 5000m. Against them would be Trianingsih, the SEA Games champion from Indonesia.
Thirteen countries are taking part in the event, the second in the country after the second edition in Bhopal in 2008. The first edition was held in Singapore.