AFI mulls selection trials before Olympics in future

New Delhi: In a bid to prevent unfit athletes from competing at the big stage such as Olympics, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) is mulling to have selection trials before major international events in future.

AFI`s move came after it asked three athletes -- triple jumpers Renjith Maheshwary and Mayookha Johny and marathoner Ram Singh Yadav -- to prove fitness before leaving for London Olympics.

AFI`s contention is that they have not taken part in any competition after crossing the Olympics qualification mark.

AFI President Adille Sumariwala said that the selection committee discussed the issue as it has been a practice followed in the United States and Jamaica.

"The selection committee in its meeting on July 9 discussed about having selection trials in future before Olympics or other major international events. The selection committee will put up a note on this matter and the executive committee will take the final call," Sumariwala said.

In US and Jamaica, however, selection trials are held as these countries have so many athletes who crosses Olympic `A` qualification standard in each track and field event. Only three athletes who cross `A` standard can take part in a track and field event in the Olympics.

Sumirawala, who represented the country in 100m race in 1980 Moscow Olympics, said that the idea behind having selection trials is to ensure that only fit athletes take part in big events such as the Olympics.

"In the past unfit athletes had gone to Olympics. We have to ensure that the athletes we are sending to the Olympics are fit and they perform. We don`t want to send unfit athletes to enjoy for two weeks," Sumirawala said from Bangalore where the National Youth Athletics Championships is being held.

"Selection trials are held in countries like US, UK and Jamaica. Usain Bolt ran in the Jamaican 100m trials, Tyson Gay had to run in 100m selection trials in US," Sumirawala argued.

Maheshwary has been given the green signal after proving his fitness with a nine-stride effort of 16.45m at his training base in Italy while Mayookha and Yadav are yet to be assessed.

He said if the two athletes fail to prove fitness, they will be dropped from the squad.

"It`s fitness assessment and not trial. Yadav has been told to run a 10k race in Bangalore and it`s not that he will have to run within a certain timing. It`s just to see whether he is fit to run in the Olympics," said Sumirawala.

AFI Secretary General C K Valson said that Mayookha`s coach is yet to send the assessment report from her training base in Germany and it is likely to come in a day or two.

"We have not set any time limit for Mayookha to send the assessment report. But we are expecting it to come in one or two days," he said.

Yadav`s coach K S Mathews had expressed the desire that his ward does the assessment run after July 20 and preferably at Ooty where he is training now.