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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Focus shifts to Nairobi for World Athletics U20 Championships

National coach Kamal Ali Khan believes that the young Indian athletes will step up and make a mark. The 28-member Indian team reached the venue on Sunday morning.

Written by SS Manoj |
Updated: August 15, 2021 3:12:29 pm
Indian athletes comprising 17 boys and 10 girls reached Nairobi on Sunday morning. (Source: Athletics Federation of India/Twitter)

After the Tokyo Olympics, the focus now shifts to World Athletics Under-20 Championships beginning at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya from Wednesday to Sunday.

The tournament was scheduled between August 17-22 and will now begin one day later on August 18. It will conclude on August 22. It was first to be held from July 7-12, 2020 but got deferred due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nairobi won the hosting rights in 2018 after conducting ‘an outstanding final edition’ of the IAAF World U18 Championships in 2017. According to reports, at least 60,000 watched the U18 championships at Nairobi’s Moi International Sports Centre. But this time, the fans will not be watching the action due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Indian athletes comprising 17 boys and 10 girls reached Nairobi on Sunday morning. Ann Rose Tomy, who qualified for the women’s 100m hurdles, missed the flight after the Kerala athlete turned Covid-19 positive on Friday evening.

Nairobi is known for its cool climate with temperatures as low as 15 degrees and high at 22 degrees Celsius, so expectations to do well are high.

Investing in relay teams

Kamal Ali Khan, chief coach of the Indian team, is upbeat after the two-weeks camp at NSNIS, Patiala. “As usual our hopes are on throw events – javelin throw and shot put. In women’s long jump we expect a podium finish apart from the relay teams, particularly, the 4x400m mixed squad,” Kamal told the Indian Express on the eve of their departure.

Interestingly, no boys have been listed in the individual race even though they are participating in men’s 4x400m. Even in mixed relay, Indians are missing from the provisional list.

“During the national camp, we’re focusing on the relay teams. The mixed team has an edge while boys and girls relay teams too will do well,” he added.

The coach also said Amandeep Singh Dhaliwal (men’s shot put), Amit (men’s 10,000m race walk), Priya Mohan (women’s 400m) and Ankita Dhyani (women’s 5,000m) are expected to do well.

“It’s the turn of this group to step up,” Kamal said.

Priya, Shaili, Rana expected to make heads turn

The national champion Priya Mohan, who won 400m gold during the National Senior Inter-State Athletics Championships held in July at Patiala, is expected to do an encore of 53.29 seconds.

Only six – Veronika Arkhipova (52.70s of Authorised Neutral Athlete), Jamaicans Annalee Robinson (53.26s), Oneika McAnnuff (52.54s), Dejanea Oakley (52.51s), Imaobong Nse (51.70s Nigeria), Kornelia Lesiewicz (52.02s, Poland) – are ahead of the Indian.

In women’s long jump, Shaili Singh who has a personal best of 6.48m set during the National senior inter-state athletics meet in Patiala, is a medal contender too. Only Arianna Battistella (6.55m, Italy), Anna Matuszewicz (6.49m, Poland) and Mariia Horielova (6.49m, Ukraine) are above the Jhansi born jumper, according to the entry list.

In men’s javelin throw, Kunwer Ajai Raj Singh Rana, who has a season’s best of 74.75m, is expected to follow the steps of Neeraj Chopra. The Tokyo Olympic champion had won the gold medal throwing the spear at 86.48m in the 2012 edition of the World meet at Stadion Zawisza, Bydgoszcz in Poland. Rana, hailing from Kiratpur Sahib in Rupnagar district, Punjab, is currently World No. 3.

The other medallists are Hima Das (gold in women’s 400m, 51.46s) at Ratina Stadium, Tampere, Finland in 2018, Seema Antil (bronze in women’s discus throw) in 2002 Kingston edition and Navjeet Kaur Dhillon (bronze in women’s discus throw) in 2014 Eugene, USA.

India’s schedule

DAY 1 August 18, Wednesday (from 11.30 am IST): 4x400m mixed relay heats, Vipin Kumar (men’s hammer throw, qualification, Seasonal best: 68.94m), Amandeep Singh Dhaliwal (men’s shot put, qualification, SB: 19.15m), Priya Mohan & Summy (women’s 400m heats, SBs: 53.29s & 53.57s); afternoon session from 7 pm IST Jay Kumar & Kunwer Ajai Raj Singh Rana (men’s javelin throw qualification, SBs: 72.29m & 74.75), mixed relay final.

DAY 2 August 19 Thursday (from 11.55 am IST): Rohan Gautham & Hardeep Kumar (men’s 400m hurdles, heats, SB: 52.49s), Anu Kumar (men’s 800m heats, SB: 1:49.25s); afternoon session from 5.10 pm IST shot put final.

DAY 3 August 20, Friday (from 11.30 am IST): Nandini Agasara (women’s 100mH heats 13.70s), Tejas Shirse (men’s 110mH heats, SB: 13.74s), Pooja (women’s 1500m heats, SB: 4:19.58s), Shaili Singh (women’s long jump qualification SB: 6.48m), Shanmuga Srinivas Nalubothu (men’s 200m heats, SB: 2 21.02s); afternoon session (from 5.10 pm IST): men’s javelin throw final, Sunil Joliya (men’s steeplechase heats SB: 8:55.48s), women’s 100mH semis, men’s 110mH semis, men’s 400m semis, men’s HT final, women’s 800m SF, women’s long jump final, men’s 200m SF & men’s 3000m SC final;

DAY 4 August 21 Saturday (morning sessions from 11.30a m IST): Amit (men’s 10000m race walk, SB: 40:40.97s), Baljeet Kaur (women’s 10000m race walk, SB: 49:50.71s), women’s 4x400m relay (Priya, Payal Vohra, Deepanshi, Summy & Kunja Rajitha SV: 3:26.89), men’s 4x400m relay (Nagarjunan Selvaraj, Kapil, Abdul Razak, Barath Sridhar, Sumit Chahal, SB: 3:00.25s), afternoon session (from 5.30 pm IST): men’s 400mH SF, men’s 800m SFs, women’s 100mH, men’s 110mH, women’s 800m, women’s & men’s 400m, men’s 200m finals;

DAY 5 August 22 Sunday (from 5 pm all finals): Donal Makimairaj (men’s triple jump, SB: 15.76m), men’s 400mH, men’s 800m, women’s 1500m, Ankita (women’s 5000m, SB: 16:21.19s).

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