The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has ramped up the entry standards for the national championships in five men’s events this year. For the women, however, just one discipline has been affected.
This is because the governing body feels the existing standards across most categories were already high enough for women.
In men’s 3000m steeplechase, the previous 9:50s standard is now 9:30s, while in men’s javelin throw, the bar has been raised to 68m, up three metres from the prior benchmark.
Avinash Sable and Neeraj Chopra raised the bar
The changes come not long after Avinash Sable and Neeraj Chopra’s impressive prowess in recent months.
Back in October, Avinash Sable secured his Olympic berth after becoming the first man from India to make the cut for the 3000m steeplechase final at IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar.
That was followed by a heroic comeback from Neeraj Chopra, who, after a year off the field, managed to qualify for the 2020 Olympics by breaching the Olympic qualifying mark of 85 metres.
“Yes, you can say it's a sort of a Sable effect in steeplechase,” concurred AFI Secretary CK Valson while speaking to Sportstar. “Though his standard is very high when compared to the others, the fact that we have raised it means more people are doing better than before,” added Valson.
Other highs and a few lows
Apart from steeplechase and javelin throw, the other men’s events to have their standards raised include the 200m, 400m and 800m run.
The only men’s events to see a decrement in standards are shot put and discus throw, down from 15.50m to 15m and 45.50m to 45m respectively.
The reason behind this is the AFI is aiming for at least 15 athletes to be able to reach the standard. “...otherwise I will be running a competition with only 10 people,” reasoned Valson.
Women’s discus throw goes further
For the women, the only event to have its bar raised is discus throw. Whereas last year’s standard was 35m, the new qualification target is 38m.
The national track and field season will get underway in Patiala on March 20, with the first Indian Grand Prix.
2020 AFI entry standards:
Men: 100m (11.00s), 200m (22.00s), 400m (49.00s), 800m (1:54.00s), 1500m (3:58.00s), 5000m (15:10.00s), 10,000m (32:50.00s), 110m hurdles (15.20s), 400m hurdles (55.00s), 3000m steeplechase (9:30.00s), high jump (1.90m), pole vault (4.20m), long jump (7m), triple jump (14.50m), shot put (15m), discus throw (45m), hammer throw (54m), javelin throw (68m), 4x100m relay (42.50s), 4x400m relay (3:12.00s), decathlon (5000 pts), 20km (road)/20,000m (track) race walking (1:40.00s), 50km race walking (no restriction).
Women: 100m (12.50s), 200m (25.00s), 400m (57.00s), 800m (2:20.00s), 1500m (4:35.00s), 5000m (17:50.00s), 10,000m (37:50.00s), 100m hurdles (15.30s), 400m hurdles (1:04.50s), 3000m steeplechase (12:50.00s), high jump (1.55m), pole vault (3.10m), long jump (5.70m), triple jump (11.75m), discus throw (38m), hammer throw (40m), javelin throw (42.50m), 4x100m relay (48.00s), 4x400m relay (3:52.00s), heptathlon (3500 pts), 20km/20,000m race walking (2:00.00s).