Olympic stars to lead India for World Athletics Championships


While most of the selections were on expected lines, some decisions raised eyebrows — like the omission of long jumper Jeswin Aldrin, who was left out despite qualifying for the event…reports Asian Lite News

Olympic gold medallist javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, top male steeplechaser Avinash Sable and long jumper M Sreeshankar will lead the Indian charge at the World Athletics Championships to be held at Eugene, Oregon in the US, from July 15-24.

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) on Thursday announced a 22-member squad, including five women, for the biggest competition for athletes this year.

Neeraj, who recently finished second in the Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku, setting the national record of 89.30 metres in the process and then won a gold medal at the Kuortane Games with a creditable effort of 86.60m in horrible conditions, will be India’s main hope for a gold medal in Oregon, continuing his surge from Tokyo.

AFI president Adille J. Sumariwalla said the team has been selected from among those who had either attained the entry standard set by World Athletics or qualified based on their world rankings.

Seven of the 16 athletes, who will compete in individual events, are National Record holders. They include Sable, Sreeshankar, Tajinderpal Singh Toor, Neeraj Chopra, Sandeep Kumar, Annu Rani and Priyanka Goswami.

The AFI informed that quarter-miler Amoj Jacob has been selected for the 4x400m relay subject to fitness. “Arokia Rajiv will replace Amoj in case he does not regain fitness,” Sumariwalla said.

Similarly, women 400m sprinter Aishwarya Kailash Mishra’s selection was subject to a fitness trial — with electronic time and dope testing. Recently, there were reports of her evading a dope test, though the athlete has denied the allegation.

Aishwarya Mishra clocked 51.18 seconds in the Federation Cup in Kozhikode on April 3 and has not completed a lap in a competitive event since. She entered the National Inter-State Athletics Championships in Chennai earlier this month but was disqualified after making a foul start in the 400m heats.

Asked what explanation she gave for not being available for the dope test, Sumariwalla said the athlete informed that she was at her native place where her grandmother was unwell and had also lost her phone.

While most of the selections were on expected lines, some decisions raised eyebrows — like the omission of long jumper Jeswin Aldrin, who was left out despite qualifying for the event.

Sumariwalla and chief national coach Radhakrishnan Nair explained that Jeswin Aldrin was excluded as his form has declined since he achieved the qualification.

“He attained the entry standard by jumping 8.26m in the Federation Cup on April 3 but his graph has shown only a downward trend since. He jumped 7.82, 7.69 and 7.51 in the last three meets,” Sumariwalla said.

AFI President said shot putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor was picked despite the Asian Champion not looking in good form. According to Sumariwalla, the Asian Champion was staging a comeback from wrist surgery and had kept improving his performances.

“In the Inter-State Championships, which was a selection meet, Toor won with a 20.34m effort. He is the best we have in the shot put,” he said.

The teams:

Men: Avinash Sable (3000m Steeplechase), MP Jabir (400m Hurdles), M Sreeshankar and Muhammed Anees Yahiya (Long Jump), Abdulla Aboobacker, Praveen Chithravel and Eldhose Paul (Triple Jump), Tajinderpal Singh Toor (Shot Put), Neeraj Chopra and Rohit Yadav (Javelin Throw), Sandeep Kumar (20km Race Walking), Amoj Jacob*, Noah Nirmal Tom, Muhammed Ajmal, Naganathan Pandi, Rajesh Ramesh and Muhammed Anas Yahiya (4x400m).

Women: S Dhanalakhsmi (200m), Aishwarya Kailash Mishra (400m), Parul Chaudhary (3000m Steeplechase), Annu Rani (Javelin Throw) and Priyanka Goswami (20km Walk).

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