Indian athletics to return in September

The national body is hoping to use 2020 to help the athletes get back in shape with qualifying for the Olympics as a target next year.

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) is hoping to get the domestic season underway in September.

At the Special General Meeting which had over 100 officials in attendance through video conferencing, the governing body of the sport in India agreed upon the calendar shared presented by High-Performance Director Volker Hermann, Chief Coach Bahadur Singh and Deputy Chief Coach Radhakrishnan Nair.

As per the calendar, the season will begin with the Indian Grand Prix 1 on September 12 with the Open Nationals scheduled for September 20-24 and. Meanwhile, the Federation Cup will be held on October 5-9.

The Indian GP 3 would be held on October 20 followed by Interstate Athletics from October 29- November 1.

However, with World Athletics suspending the Olympic qualification period till November 30, the meets in 2020 will act as a preparatory period for the Indian athletes as they will look to get back into shape after the unprecedented break due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We had planned for competition in two phases but have had to draw up in one, delayed phase,” AFI Planning Committee Chairman Dr Lalit K Bhanot said addressing the SGM.

Throwing light on the thought behind designing the calendar, Hermann asserted that while the focus was firmly on the Olympics in 2021, the domestic meets ahead of the qualification period will go a long way in helping the Indian elite tune-up to the challenge.

“Not just international meets, but we have to consider the local situations as well. We hope to conduct national meets from September to November. The rationale behind this (calendar) is to enable our athletes to achieve higher intensity closer to international meets,” the High-Performance Director was quoted as saying by the New Indian Express.

Eyes on 2021 for Olympic qualifications

“Immediately after the domestic season, the senior athletes will start preparing for the next season. The athletes will attain a little higher intensity as we start preparing for the first competitions in March (IGPs),” he continued.

“The Olympic-bound athletes would be going to Europe or in the United States for training and compete in international meets. End of June would be the last qualifying event in India — Inter-state athletics.”

The SGM also unanimously agreed upon extending the term of the office-bearers until the members could come together for a physical meeting to have an election.

Addressing the body, AFI president Adille J Sumariwalla said though the federation had moved ahead for the conduct of the election by appointing a Returning Officer and securing the nomination of delegates, the coronavirus pandemic forced them to call off the election.

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