Sports

Memorable contests in offing at athletics meet

Saba Nayakan Kolkata | Updated on March 12, 2018

Mayookha Johny's triple jump winning effort at the Inter State Athletics Meetheld in Chennai last month.

Among Olympic sport, athletics enjoys pride of place for its ability to leave the spectators spellbound with its sheer variety and thrill.

When the 20th Asian Athletics Championship begins at Pune from July 3, Indian athletics will have its best competing against the elite of Asia. Surely, there will be many memorable contests that are likely to warm the hearts of the home crowd.

India last hosted this prestigious event in 1989 at New Delhi.

Since then, the athletics scenario has changed much in terms of performance. Some of the Asian athletes have attained higher standards and emerged world beaters, especially those from China and West Asia.

In this background, the 20th edition will witness as many as 14 Asian champions defending the title they won at the last edition at Kobe in Japan. Among them is long-jumper Mayookha Johny of India, the only one from the host country.

Better chances

Realistically speaking, India has better chances of winning medals than in the past, simply because we have been performing creditably at the international level.

For example, women’s steeplechaser Sudha Singh is the Asian leader in this event. Her gold medal winning time of 9:45.60 seconds at the recently concluded inter-State athletics meet in Chennai makes her the overwhelming favourite at Pune.

Having booked her berth for the Moscow World championship this August, Sudha will be looking to improve her National record to further boost her morale.

Men’s triple-jumper Renjith Maheswary was the second Indian athlete to book a ticket to Moscow with a jump of 16.98 m at the Chennai inter-State.

Star line-up

This talented athlete from Kerala has been inconsistent in international competitions, especially at the London Olympics where he failed to register a single legal jump in three attempts.

An Asian champion in 2007, Renjith will hopefully place his best foot forward in his quest to regain the gold medal.

Pune will be agog with expectations when it welcomes 580 athletes from 43 nations for the meet to be held at the Shri Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex at Balewadi.

Among the stars of the meet, the one to watch out for is young Qatari high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim who recently eclipsed the 29-year-old Asian record of 2.39 m by Zhu Jianhua of China, set in 1984.

The Qatari cleared 2.40 m during the Diamond League meet at Eugene (US).

Among the women, former World champion Maryam Yusuf Jamal from Bahrain is the one to look out for.

All in all, the five-day championship will be one of the best organiced and fiercely contested.

sabanayakan.s@thehindu.co.in

Published on June 30, 2013

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