India’s top prospects for the World Athletics Championships
Athletics events have historically been India’s weak point with the nation still waiting to win its first-ever track and field Olympic medal since gaining independence in 1947.
Although a couple of athletes like Milkha Singh and PT Usha have come extremely close to winning medals in the past, India has not enjoyed too many magic moments in athletics at the Olympics.
However, Tokyo 2020 could serve up a different story with a fresh crop of Indian athletes giving the nation renewed hope and interest. But before Tokyo 2020, the athletes will be hoping to put down a marker at the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar next month.
So far, Muhammed Anas is the only sprinter to have qualified for the Worlds.
But with the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) organising the National inter-State Athletics Championships, beginning on August 27, the recognised names in Indian athletics will be hoping to make the Doha-bound flight soon. We take a look at a few prospects.
This runner from Kerala holds the national record in the 400m category, running the distance in 45.24 seconds at the Czech Athletics Championship a couple of months back. Anas is a three-time Asian Games silver medallist and also has two golds to his name from the Asian Championships of 2017.
Anas has been India’s most prolific quarter-mile runner since the era of Milkha Singh and will be optimistic of emulating the former athlete’s legendary status by doing well at the World Championships.
Dutee Chand is another key prospect in the 100m and 200m category if she makes the cut for the World Championships. The four-time Asian Championship bronze medallist has been in fine form in the past few months, winning gold at the World Universiade in Naples in July and also making it to the 200m final.
The 23-year-old has performed admirably under the pressure at the big stage, winning silver medals in both her races at the 2018 Asian Games. You can see more on Dutee's triumph over adversity here:
Ever since Hima Das wowed us all with that extraordinary win at the U20 World Championships last year in Tampere, the expectation levels have been rising over what she can deliver on the global stage.
The 19-year-old holds the Indian national record for 400m (50.79s) which she achieved at the 2018 Asian Games; if she can replicate such a performance in her upcoming races, the athlete from Assam could well and truly be a Tokyo 2020 contender.
Though the athlete from Assam will be skipping the National Inter-State meet as she continues her preparations in Czech Republic, she will look to achieve the qualification mark needed for the Worlds at the Brno Grand Prix on August 28.
One of the nation’s experienced track athlete, Arokia Rajiv has been one of the consistent performers, especially in relay events. Rajiv is a two-time South Asian Games gold medallist, winning in the 4x100m relay as well as the 400m.
He also won two silvers at the Asian Games held last year and would be looking to continue his form deep into the season. Moreover, with the 4x400m relay quartet of Anas, Rajiv, Dharun Aiyyasamy and Amoj Jacob in good stead to make it to the Worlds, the nation will be counting on them to create a ripple or two in Doha.
The AFI is expected to announce the Indian squad for the World Championships on September 5.