AFI finalises athletics calendar

Athletics Federation of India on Thursday finalised the calendar of events this year with new places like Mangalore and Sangrur in Punjab getting important meets.

New Delhi: Athletics Federation of India on Thursday finalised the calendar of events this year with new places like Mangalore and Sangrur in Punjab getting important meets.

The calendar drawn up on the first day of the two-day AFI Executive Committee meeting here assumes significance as Indian athletes will look to qualify for the World Championships to be held in Beijing from August 22 to 30 as well as for next year's Rio Olympics.

The 2016 Rio Olympics athletics qualification period for 10,000m, marathon, race walk, combined and relay events has begun on January 1 this year while other remaining events start on May 1, though the entry standards will be confirmed by the IAAF on April 15.

Mangalore will host the Federation Cup National Senior Championships from May 1-4 while Chennai will be the venue for the National Inter-State Senior Championships from June 21-24.

The Federation Cup National Senior championships also assumes significance as the performance of the athletes in this meet will be taken into account to pick the Indian participants for the June 3-7 Asian Athletics Championships to be held in Wuhan, China.

The third national event of importance at the senior level -- National Open Championships -- will be held in Kolkata from September 16-19.

The Indian Grand Prix series will have four legs this year with Sangrur in Punjab hosting the second leg on April 19. The first leg will be held at the NIS Patiala on April 15 while both the third and fourth legs will be held in Delhi on April 25 and September 6.

The athletics season will be opened with the National Youth Championships in Pune from April 2-4.

The AFI Executive also decided to take strong action against dope offenders with president Adille Sumariwalla saying records at the Inter-University and National School Games will not be considered if dope tests are not conducted.

"No records created in athletics competitions at the Inter-University and National School Games will be recognised if there are no dope tests conducted by the organisers. AFI won't tolerate doping," he said.

"The menace of over-age athletes taking part in junior competitions needs to be tackled and stopped," Sumariwalla insisted.

Sumariwalla also stressed upon the focus on winning a medal in 2016 Rio Olympics while also taking the resolve to fight the menace of over-age.

"Our focus is on winning a medal in Rio Olympics. So we have to work on that. Athlete has to come first before all other concerns. We are here for the Athletes.

"We have to make Kids Athletics popular across schools in the country. We also have to formulate an attractive Athletics Calendar to attract fans, brands and broadcasters," said Sumariwalla.

Sumariwalla also made it clear the state units will also have to be run in a transparent manner and there should be proper criteria for selection of athletes.

"There will have to be transparency in state units with proper Selection Committee to select state athletics team on the basis of state meets.

"We will also make participation compulsory for all the affiliated 522 districts in National Inter-District Junior Athletics Meet or they will face disaffiliation," he said.

Chief coach Bahadur Singh, meanwhile, admitted that Indian track and field athletes could have done better in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

"It (winning three Medals) was our best performance outside India at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014, but we could have done better," he said.

He laid the blame for the women's 4x400m relay race not defending the gold to coach N Ramesh.

"It was a wrong decision to appoint Ramesh as coach of the National Camp for CWG 2014. He failed at that and it affected the performance of the relay team. We had to change the coach, and as a result, the relay girls won the gold medal at the Asian Games 2014," Bahadur said.

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