With the number of COVID-19 cases rising each day, there is a worry about whether Indian athletes will have enough competitions to qualify for the World Championships in Oregon, US, in July.
A few have made the cut, and the Athletics Federation of India is confident things will go off well for many others.
“With this Omicron, Europe is pretty bad, so we will have to wait and see. There will be events, both in India and abroad, and they will qualify that will not be a problem,” AFI president Adille Sumariwalla told Sportstar on Wednesday.
“We are watching the situation, as and when we can send somebody we will send, as and when we can host events, we will host. We will do the best we can like we had before the Olympics.”
Olympic champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra is currently the only Indian athlete officially training abroad with support from the Central Government, and the AFI is looking at sending more athletes outside.
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But Sumariwalla was not keen on revealing the names or the number.
“We will send whoever needs to go, depending on who needs to qualify. This year, we have three majors, actually four… there’s the Indoor Worlds first, then the Worlds, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. We will see what is best for our athletes and the country. We will take different calls at different times,” he said.
He was clear that the AFI will send athletes for the Indoor Worlds (Belgrade, March 18-20).
“Yes, of course. Those who qualify will go,” said Sumariwalla.
M. Sreeshankar (in pic) and Tajinderpal Singh Toor are the only Indians who have achieved the qualification standard for the Indoor Worlds.(File Photo) – Special Arrangement
The qualification gates for Indoor Worlds opened on January 1, 2021 (closes March 7, 2022) and long jump national record holder M. Sreeshankar (8.26m) and Asian Games’ shot put champion Tajinderpal Singh Toor (21.49m) are the only Indians who have achieved the qualification standard. India can also send 4x400m men’s and women’s relay teams for which there is no entry standard.
The javelin and discus throws do not figure in indoor athletics hence Neeraj and discus thrower Kamalpreet Kaur, the only two Indians to enter the final at the Tokyo Olympics, will not be in action in Belgrade.
Sumariwalla also said that the process to bring the six foreign coaches that the SAI appointed recently has begun.
“We have already sent them the letters, there is a long process, the paperwork has been started by SAI now. Hopefully, they should come before the Worlds.”