Indians set sight on athletics World Championships
Asian Athletics Championships shot put gold medallist Inderjeet Singh and discus thrower Vikas Gowda are among the most notable names in the 17-member Indian squad for the athletics World Championships starting here on Saturday.
Beijing: Asian Athletics Championships shot put gold medallist Inderjeet Singh and discus thrower Vikas Gowda are among the most notable names in the 17-member Indian squad for the athletics World Championships starting here on Saturday.
The Championships will begin on August 22 and will continue till August 30. The Indian squad, which comprises ten women and seven male athletes, will be competing in nine events in the biennial event at the Bird's Nest stadium here.
Shot putter Inderjeet is in good form having won gold medals at every event he has taken part in this year. The towering left-hander has won a staggering eight gold medals this year and has already qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
He emerged champion at the Asian Championships and Asian Grand Prix in June before finishing at the top of the podium at the World University Games last month.
Gowda, who won silver at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, is also one of India's best bets for a medal in Beijing. But he needs to do much better than his season's best of 65.14 metres in order to finish on the podium.
India will also be hoping for a strong show from talented Tintu Luka in the women's 800 metre race. The 26-year-old Keralite will also be part of the women's 4x400 metres relay quartet along with Anu Raghavan, M. Poovamma, Debashree Majumdar and Jisna Mathew.
India can also hope for a competitive performance in the women's middle and long distance events from O.P. Jaisha, Sudha Singh (both marathon) and Lalita Babar (3000 metres steeplechase and marathon).
The trio underwent high-altitude training in Ooty, Tamil Nadu, under Belarussian coach Nilolai Snesarev as part of their preparations.
However, Rajinder Singh, who had achieved the qualification mark in the men's javelin throw, will not be able to make it to Beijing as he picked up an injury at the Asian Grand Prix Series in Thailand in June.
The javelin thrower is currently undergoing medical tests for his recovery programme.
The championships star man is triple Olympic sprint champion Jamaica's Usain Bolt who will take the track for the first time in the men's 100m heats on Saturday.
Bolt, 28, is seeking to retain his 100m and 200m titles.
The showdown between Bolt and the United States' Justin Gatlin, who has the quickest times of the year in 100m and 200m, has been billed as the biggest battle of the competition.
Also, two-time Olympic champion long-distance and middle-distance runner Mo Farah wil also be a man to watch out for in the championships.
The 32-year-old has had a troubled time of late with doping allegations surrounding his coach Alberto Salazar. There is, however, no suggestion Farah has broken any rules and Salazar vehemently denies the claims.
Kenya will be strong favourites to win the first gold medal of the championships in the men's marathon. In Dennis Kimetto and Wilson Kipsang they have the current and former world record holder.
Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce claimed the 100m-200m sprint double in Moscow two years ago, and she will be looking to defend her crown.
The India squad for World Championships:
Men: Discus: Vikas Gowda; Shot Put: Inderjeet Singh; 20km walk: Gurmeet Singh, Baljinder Singh, Chandan Singh; 50km walk: Sandeep Kumar, Manish Singh Rawat.
Women: 3000m steeplechase: Lalita Babar; Marathon: Lalita Babar, O.P. Jaisha, Sudha Singh (marathon); 20km walk: Khusbir Kaur, Sapana; 800m: Tintu Luka; 4x400m relay: Tintu Luka, Anu Raghavan, M. Poovamma, Debashree Majumdar, Jisna Mathew.
Coaches: Nikolai Snesarev, Andrei Filimonau, Pritam Singh, P.T. Usha, Ranbir Singh Sidhu, Alexander Artsybashev, Ramakrishnan Gandhi.