Indian track and field athletes hope for September start

The national federation hopes to begin the season in September and an early start in 2021 to allow maximum opportunities for the athletes to make the Olympic cut. 

The Indian Athletics Federation is hoping to begin their 2020 season in September.

But the international exposure trips that most of the elite athletes in the country bank on to help go the extra mile won’t be a feasible option until 2021, the AFI president Adille J Sumariwalla said on Tuesday.

Speaking to the athletes, coaches and the support staff following a meeting with the AFI Planning Committee, Adille Sumariwalla informed that the federation was monitoring the situation closely to figure out the best possible solution at the earliest.

“At this stage, we cannot say anything about any foreign exposure camp later in the year, but for sure, we will plan for international competitions-cum-training camps for 2021,” said Adille Sumariwalla, who represented India at 1980 Olympics in the 100m, the Press Trust of India reported.

“We are monitoring the situation at the camps and when the situation allows, you will be allowed to train outside after the consultation with SAI.”

Prepare for an extended season

Most of India’s elite track and field athletes are based out of the various Sports Authority of India centres, largely training indoors with a nation-wide lockdown being imposed following the COVID-19 outbreak.

Javelin ace Neeraj Chopra, middle distance runner Hima Das and shot putter Tajinder Pal Singh Toor are based out of the National Institute of Sports, Patiala. Meanwhile, racewalker KT Irfan, the first Indian to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, along with the 4x400M relay teams are put up at the SAI South Centre in Bengaluru.

“We are really glad that all of you are fit and safe at the camps in Patiala, Bengaluru and Ooty,” the AFI president said addressing the athletes through a video call.

“We have to use this opportunity of delay to our advantage and you have to be mentally prepared for these challenges.

“With the changing scenario and back-to-back major events planned for the next two years, we will have to adapt to a single phase of the competition period.”

Adille Sumariwalla also stated that the national federation was keen on kick-starting their 2020 season in September-October, and looking at an early start in 2021 to allow maximum opportunities for the athletes hoping to make the Olympic cut.

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