Indian athletes for Asian Championships to be named on June 20
New Delhi: Indian athletes for the Asian Championships to be held in Pune from July 3-7 will be selected on June 20 here with medal prospects like Sudha Singh, Krishna Poonia, Tintu Luka and Vikas Gowda expected to make the cut.
With the host country having the luxury to name three participants in each of the 42 events (21 each for men and women), India are set to have maximum number of athletes in the continent`s biennial showpiece event.
China, who have ruled Asian athletics scene in the last 15 editions, and Japan, another continental powerhouse who have finished second in last two editions, are expected to send strong squads for the Championship which is being held for second time in India after New Delhi hosted in 1989.
Athletics Federation of India Secretary C K Valson said that India may not field participants in all the events as the selectors headed by Olympian Gurbachan Singh Randhawa will set a minimum standard for taking part in each event.
"The Indian athletes will be named in the AFI selection committee on June 20 and the selectors will set the procedure and the minimum standards. As host country, India can name three athletes in each event," Valson said.
Valson said the top three finishers in the recent National Inter-State Meet in Chennai will be considered but they would not be automatic picks for the Championships.
"The top three in National Inter-State will be considered but they would not get automatic selections. The selectors will set some minimum standards and those athletes who do not reach them would not be picked even if they had finished on podium in National Inter-State," he said.
He also said that ace discus thrower Vikas Gowda and 110m hurdler Siddhanth Thingalaya would be considered despite their non-participation in the National Inter-State Meet.
"The AFI had not said that all the athletes were to take part in National Inter-State to get considered for the Asian Championships. We had asked all the athletes who were training in India to participate to get themselves considered for the Asian event," he said.
"There was no need for those training abroad to take part in National Inter-State. Gowda is based in the United States and training there. He is also taking part in international events and Siddhanth is training in Australia. So they will be considered for the Asian Championships," said Valson.
Gowda is the current Asian leader in men`s discus after his 65.82m effort at the Mesa Classic in Arizona in April and he is a strong medal contender. He won a silver in both the 2005 and 2011 editions of the Championships.
Thingalaya, who holds the national record of 13.65 secs which he set in Belgium last year, is another medal contender. He is now training under Australian Sharon Hannan, the coach of London Olympics women`s 100m hurdles winner Sally Pearson.
His season`s best so far is 13.81 secs which he clocked while winning the gold in the third leg of the Asian Grand Prix in Colombo last month.
But the athlete who has the best chance to win gold in Pune is Sudha Singh in women`s 3000m steeplechase event. She is season`s leader in Asia with 9:45.60 -- a national record -- which she clocked to win gold in National Inter-State.
Sudha is the second athlete, along with triple jumper Renjith Maheswary, to have qualified for the Moscow World Championships in August.
Luka and Poonia are yet to reach their peak and they have to perform several notches up their current form if they want to finish at the podium in Pune.
Meanwhile, 2012 London Olympics women`s triple jump gold winner Olga Rypakova of Kazakhstan is unlikely to make it to Pune because of the birth of her second child last week.
Those who have confirmed participation include London Olympics bronze medallist and Asian record holder high jumper Mutaz Issa Barsham of Qatar and Japan`s reigning Asian champion and Asian Games gold medallist in both 100m and 200m Chisato Fukushima.
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