India today named a strong 95-member tea for next month’s Asian Athletics Championships in Bhubaneswar with javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra set the lead the challenge for the home country.
The squad includes 46 women.
With an aim to garner maximum number of medals from the July 6-9 championships to be held at Kalinga Stadium, India fielded its best available athletes.
The event also has added importance as all the gold winners will automatically qualify for the World Athletics Championships to be held in London in August.
Javelin thrower Davinder Singh Kang, who tested positive for recreational drug marijuana, has also been named in the team. He was not handed a provisional suspension as marijuana was a specified substance under the WADA Code.
“We have checked his case. Since Davinder has not been put under suspension, we have named him in the team. If the NADA (Disciplinary Panel) passes any order or suspends him before or during the championships, we will take him out of the team.
“But as of now, there is no bar on him being selected in the team,” Athletics Federation of India Secretary CK Valson told PTI.
Moreover, the entries of seven athletes are also provisional and would be subject to their passing fitness trials in Bhubaneswar ahead of championships.
Two women athletes — hurdler and long jumper Nayana James and triple jumper Joyline Murali Lobo — as well as discus thrower Vikas Gowda, long-jumper Siddharth Mohan Naik and triple jumper U Karthik will undergo trials on June 30 while high hurdler Siddhanth Thingalaya would face a trial on July 2.
Among the top athletes who did not figure in the team include women’s 3000m steeplechaser Lalita Babar, who married recently, and men’s triple jumper Renjith Maheswary.
Athletics Federation of India President Adille Sumariwalla expressed hope that the athletes would do better than the last edition in China.
“Our athletes have had a string of solid performances in the run-up to the competition and we believe they are primed to deliver their best here. We are sure they would win more than the 13 medals claimed in the last edition at Wuhan in China. Our team has a number of proven performers and some exciting new talent,” he said.
An Olympian sprinter himself, Sumariwalla said he was confident of Odiya women sprinters Dutee Chand and Srabani Nanda as well Amiya Kumar Malick in the men’s sprints would secure podium finishes.
“Besides, there are a number of talented athletes like javelin throwers Neeraj Chopra and Annu Rani, long jumper Ankit Sharma, steeplechaser Sudha Singh and quarter-miler Nirmala besides the 4x400m women’s relay team that we have pinned our hopes on.”
More than 800 athletes are taking part in the event. This is the third time India is hosting the continent’s biennial flagship event after New Delhi (1989) and Pune (2013).
Men: 100m and 200m: Amiya Kumar Mallick
400m: Muhammed Anas, Amoj Jacob and Arokia Rajiv
800m: Jinson Johnson and Vishambhar Keolkar
1500m: Ajay Kumar Saroj and Siddhantha Adhikari
5000m: G Lakshmanan and Murli Kumar Gavit
10,000m: Lakshmanan, Gopi Thonakal and Kalidas Hirave
3000m steeplechase: Naveen Kumar and Durga Bahadur Budha
110m hurdles: Siddhant Thingalaya* and Prem Kumar
400m hurdles: Jabir MP, Santhosh Kumar T and Durgesh Kumar Pal
Pole vault: S Siva
High jump: Chethan B and Ajay Kumar
Long jump: Ankit Sharma, Samsheer SE and Siddharth Mohan Naik* Triple jump: Arpinder Singh and Karthik U*;
Shot put: Tajinder Pal Toor, Jasdeep Singh Dhillon and Omprakash Singh Karhana;
Discus throw: Vikas Gowda*, Dharamraj Yadav and Kirpal Singh;
Hammer throw: Niraj Kumar;
Javelin throw: Neeraj Chopa, Davinder Singh Kang and Abhishek Singh;
Decathlon: Jagtar Singh and Abhishek Shetty;
4x100m relay: Amiya Kumar Mallick, Jyotishankar Debnath, Anuroop John, VK Elakkiya Dasan, Pravin Muthukumaran and Chintha Sudhakar;
4x400m relay: Muhammed Anas, Amoj Jaco, Arokia Rajiv, Sachi Roby, Mohan Kumar and Kunju Muhammed.
Women: 100m and 200m: Dutee Chand and Srabani Nanda; 400m: Nirmala, MR Poovamma and Jisna Mathew;
800m: Tintu Luka, Archana Adhav and Lili Das;
1500m: Monika Choudhary;
5000m: L Suriya and Sanjivani Jadhav;
10,000m: L Suriya, Sanjivani Jadhav and Meenu; 3000m steeplechase: Sudha Singh and Parul Chaudhary;
100m hurdles: Nayana James*;
400m hurdles: Anu R, Jauna Murmu and Arpitha M.
Pole vault: KM Sangeeta; High jump: Sahana Kumari and Swapna Barman;
Long jump: Nayana James*, Neena V and G Karthika;
Triple jump: Sheena NV and Joyline Murali Lobo*.
Shot put: Manpreet Kaur, Ramanpreet Kaur and Anamika Das;
Discus throw: Kamalpreeet Kaur Bal, Seema Punia and Himani Singh;
Hammer throw: Sarita R Singh and Gunjan Singh;
Javelin throw: Annu Rani, Poonam Rani Singh and Suman Devi.
Heptathlon: Swapna Barman, Purnima Hembram and Liksy Joseph.
4x100m relay: Dutee Chand, Srabani Nanda, Merlin Joseph, Reena George, Ruma Sarkar and Himashree Roy;
4x400m relay: Nirmala, Poovamma, Jisna Mathew, Vijayakumari GK, Sarita Ben Gayakwad and Debashree Mazumdar.