A host of the track and field stars, including steeplechaser Avinash Sable and long jumper Murali Sreeshankar, will take part in the upcoming National Games with athletics set to field most number of participants among the 36 sports.
The Games are scheduled to be held in Gujarat from September 29.
Though Olympic champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra and Commonwealth Games triple jump gold medallist Eldhose Paul have decided to give the Games a miss, there are still some top athletes taking part in the multi-sport event, held after a gap of seven years.
Annu Rani, who became the first Indian female javelin thrower to win a medal (bronze) in the CWG, will represent Uttar Pradesh.
Star women sprinters Hima Das and Dutee Chand will run for Assam and Odisha respectively. Dutee had won a gold in 100m and bronze in 200m in the last edition of the National Games in Kerala in 2015.
Hima will bid for her maiden medal in the National Games.
Assam’s Amlan Borgohain, who recently bettered the men’s 100m national record in a Railways meet, and women’s 100m hurdles national record holder, Jyothi Yarraji of Andhra Pradesh, are also participating in the Games.
An athlete can achieve an automatic qualification for the 2023 World Championships in Hungary on the basis of National Games performance.
“Yes, I am taking part in the National Games,” Sreeshankar told PTI.
His father S Murali said Sreeshankar can try to breach the World Championships qualification standard of 8.25m during the Games. The world championships qualification period is from July 31, 2022, to July 30, 2023.
The 23-year-old Sreeshankar from Kerala had won a silver in the Birmingham CWG last month with a jump of 8.08m. He has a personal best of 8.36m, but that was in April.
n Athletics Federation of India (AFI) official said Sable, who had won a silver in the Birmingham CWG, will be taking part in the Games, to be held in multiple cities in Gujarat.
The 28-year-old Sable had become the first non-Kenyan to win a medal at the CWG since 1994.
However, Paul and his Kerala triple jump colleague Abdullah Aboobacker, who won silver in the Birmingham CWG in India’s 1-2 finish, will not feature in the Games, their coach Harikrishnan confirmed.
As expected, athletics will see most number of participants out of the 36 sports, with more than 600 set to take part. That would make nearly 10 per cent of the total number of participants in the Games, which is likely to be around 7000.
The Games are being held across six cities of Gujarat — Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot and Bhavnagar. Track and field events will be held at IIT Gandhinagar Ground from September 30 to October 4.