Indian athletes eye Olympic qualification at domestic meets

The Indian domestic athletics season gets underway this weekend with eight events acting as Olympic qualifying meets.

By Naveen Peter ·

India’s track and field athletes will get down to business when the domestic athletics season gets underway with the 8th National & International Race Walking Championships in Ranchi this weekend.

With most of the athletes still to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, the domestic meets will be crucial for those aspiring to book a ticket to the Summer Games.

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has confirmed that all the major competitions that fall during the qualifying period for Tokyo 2020 will act as qualification events for the Games.

The Olympic qualifying window, which resumed late last year following the COVID-19 break, will run till June 29 and the AFI has lined-up eight events during this phase.

While the season begins with the race walking meet in Ranchi, where Rio Olympians Manish Singh Rawat and Sandeep Kumar will take part, the athletics caravan will head to the National Institute of Sports (NIS) in Patiala for the majority of the events.

Track and field events begin with the first Indian Grand Prix on February 18 while Indian GP II and III will be held on February 25 and March 5, respectively. Indian sprinter Dutee Chandwill headline the first Indian GP but other top names like Muhammed Anas will give it a miss.

The National New Delhi Marathon will be held on March 7 where Olympians Nitendra Singh Rawat and Sudha Singh intend to start their season.

The season’s Federation Cup will be held in Patiala on March 15-19 before shifting focus to the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru for the fourth Indian GP on June 15.

Athletes will have a final chance to book their places for Tokyo 2020 at the National Inter-State Seniors Athletics Championships on June 25-29, also in Bengaluru.

So far, KT Irfan (20km race walking), Avinash Sable (3000m steeplechase), Neeraj Chopra, Shivpal Singh (both javelin throw), Bhawna Jat (20km race walking) and the 4x400 mixed relay team have qualified for the Tokyo Games.

With the athletes sidelined from competition for about a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they could use the initial meets to get back into their competition mode before going full steam later.

“It has been a long time since I last competed. I need to have that feeling of getting into competitive mode and prepare my mind,” India’s ace javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, told Olympic Channel in a recent interview.

“For now, I am looking at the third Indian GP (on March 5). But if that doesn’t work out, I will compete at the Federation Cup.”

Indian domestic athletics schedule

February 13-14: National & International Race Walking Championships

February 18: Indian GP I

February 25: Indian GP II

March 5: Indian GP III

March 7: New Delhi National Marathon

March 15-19: National Federation Cup Seniors Athletics Championships

June 15: Indian GP IV

June 25-29: National Inter-State Seniors Athletics Championships

National & International Race Walking Championships events

Men: 20km, 35km, 50km

Women: 20km, 35km

Indian Grand Prix events

Indian GP I

Men: 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 5000m, 400m hurdles, long jump, triple jump and shot put

Women: 100m, 200, 400m, 800m, 5000m, long jump, shot put, discus throw

Indian GP II

Men: 100m, 200m, 400m, 1500m, long jump, shot put, javelin throw

Women: 100m, 200m, 400m, 1500m, 400m hurdles, long jump, shot put, javelin throw

Indian GP III

Men: 200m, 400m, 800m, 5000m, 400m hurdles, 3000m steeplechase, long jump, triple jump, shot put, javelin throw

Women: 100m, 400m, 800m, 5000m, 3000m steeplechase, long jump, shot put, javelin throw

Federation Cup events

Men: 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 5000m, 10000m, 110m hurdles, 400m hurdles, 3000m steeplechase, high jump, pole vault, long jump, triple jump, shot put, discus throw, hammer throw, javelin throw, decathlon

Women: 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 5000m, 10000m, 100m hurdles, 400m hurdles, 3000m steeplechase, high jump, pole vault, long jump, triple jump, shot put, discus throw, hammer throw, javelin throw, decathlon