Last chance to punch a ticket to Tokyo
The 60th National inter-State athletics championships starting here on Friday will be the last chance for Indian athletes to book a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics and quite a few would be hoping to either attain the elusive qualificaton standard or improve their ranking.
Among those aiming for automatic qualification at the five-day meet will be javelin thrower Annu Rani, who has been consistently improving over the last one year and is within sight of the 64m mark. Her personal best of 63.24m is not too far off and the reigning National champion will be hoping to go the distance this time around.
On the track, the much-anticipated showdown between Dutee Chand and Hima Das in the 100m and 200m sprints will be the highlight although the duo has managed to avoid it so far with either withdrawing from at least one event over the past one year.
While Dutee came agonisingly close to the 100m qualifying time at the recent Grand Prix 4, she is comfortably placed in the rankings which is not the case with Hima, who has to clock 22.80s in the 200m to qualify.
The spotlight will also be on the women’s 4x100m and the men’s 4x400m relay squads with the former hoping to better its National record and the latter aiming to consolidate its position in the rankings, placed precariously at 16th and final qualification spot.
Also hoping to improve his position on the Road to Tokyo rankings will be high jumper Tejaswin Shankar, competing at home after almost two years and coming with a series of NCAA wins under his belt in USA. Tejaswin has also entered in triple jump in keeping with his recent attempts at multiple events and it will be interesting to see how the youngster measures up here.
Shot-putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor and discus thrower Kamalpreet Kaur will be high on confidence after their impressive performances in IGP 4 couple of days ago but the pressure will be on veteran thrower Seema Antil who skipped the Grand Prix.
Javelin thrower Shivpal Singh, unable to fly abroad for training or competition, will also be in action for the first time since March but steeplechaser Avinash Sable and quartermiler Dharun Ayyasamy have given the event a miss.
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