Four-day event is final qualifying event for Asian championships
The 23rd Federation Cup, starting here on Friday, will be the last chance for some proven performers and some lesser-known names to make the cut for the Asian athletics championships next month.
In the absence of the biggest name in Indian athletics today — Neeraj Chopra, exempted from participation — and some having already confirmed their spots, the four-day event is the final qualifying event for the Asian meet.
And leading the charge would be triple jumper Arpinder Singh, champion at the Asian Games and the first Indian to win a medal at the IAAF Inter-continental Cup last year.
Arpinder had skipped all the four recent Grands Prix while training abroad and would be hoping that all the hard work put in in the USA pays off.
Chopra is the only one to be granted exemption while high jump National record-holder Tejaswin Shankar had also sought one citing clash of dates with his university exams but was not considered.
Murali Sreeshankar, who managed 7.74m at the Sangrur Grand Prix, has also pulled out with injury and requested trials after recovering. However, a final decision is likely to be taken only at the selection committee meeting on March 19.
In the absence of Chopra, the javelin throw would be an open contest between Sahil Silwal, Vipin Kasana, Shivpal Singh and Davinder Singh Kang — the last named returning to action after being cleared by the Athletes Integrity Unit and WADA.
While Kasana had missed the previous edition here last year with back injury, Kang had been suspended just days before the event. Also returning would be shot-putter Inderjeet Singh after a two-year hiatus following his clearance in a 2016 doping violation case.
Asiad winner Tajinder Pal Singh Toor has already qualified for the Asian championships and would be missing in action here.
Also hoping to set a good time would be Jinson Johnson in the 800m and 1500m, facing off with Manjit Singh in both events and Asian championship winner Ajay Kumar Saroj as well in the latter. Manjit and Saroj have already made the cut in the 1500m.
Among the women, the 400m would be a close battle with Hima Das, V.K. Vismaya, M.R. Poovamma, Jisna Mathew and Sonia Baishya all in the fray. Hima would also square off against Dutee Chand in the 200m while the latter would be hoping to make the cut in the 100m as well.
Neena Pinto and Nayana James are expected to make it a 1-2 in long jump while Annu Rani is favourite in javelin, though it would be a long shot for any of them to make the cut for the Doha event.
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