Tenjhipalam (Malappuram): The Calicut University Stadium here is all set to host the first major athletics sporting event in the Indian domestic calendar. With almost all stars save Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra descending on this small town in Kerala, sports loving fans expect better timings and new marks in the five-day 25th National Federation Cup Senior Athletics Championships beginning here from Saturday.
The 400-odd athletes will also be eyeing a berth for upcoming Worlds, Commonwealth Games and in the most prestigious continental (Asiad) Games lined up later in the year.
The simmering heat might create a problem for a few but the wind around the spacious stadium is expected to negate all such problems.
Only three finals – men’s 10,000m, women’s 10000m and women’s pole vault – are scheduled on the first day while heats in the 100m, 400m and first round in men’s long jump event will also be keenly followed.
In women’s 100m, Dutee Chand heads the lineup along with Archana Suseendran, Anjali PD, Daneshwari AT among 17 others.
In the one-lap event, a record 49 men runners will be racing for a place in the semifinals to be held in the evening. National record holder Muhammed Anas will be conspicuous by his absence as he just returned to the proper training schedule set by 400m foreign coach Galina Bukharina.
“Have no worries about Anas. He is fine as he returned from niggles suffered in the Tokyo Olympics. He is in the competitive mode and will be in action in Inter-State meet to be held from June 10 to 14 in Chennai,” assistant coach MK Raj Mohan revealed to The Bridge on Friday.
Upcoming talents Kapil, Bharath S, Muhammed Ajmal V will be competing with established Amoj Jacob, Noah Nirmal Tom, S Arokia Rajiv and Santhosh Kumar T. At the Indian Grand Prix 2 held in Trivandrum last week, Amoj upset Arokia for the first time.
Meanwhile VK Vismaya, gold medallist of women’s 4x400m relay team at the 2018 Jakarta Aisan Games, will not be taking the field as she needs more time to recover from injury. Even though Vismaya was rushed back and competed in the Idian GP 2, shewas beaten by the fastest runner in 400m this season Priya H Mohan of Karnataka.
In another development, Priya too will be skipping her pet event but will compete in 200m along with Hima Das.
The men’s long jump qualifying round will see a clash between M Sreeshankar, Md Anees, younger brother of Anas, Jeswin Aldrin who have all touched 8-m mark this season while Nirmal Sabu, Yugant Singh too will be keen to join the exclusive club.
There will be no heats in the 1500m which was scheduled to be the last event of the day. However, it will be interesting to watch how Asian champion Jinson Johnson will fare as the middle distance is returning to competition after 18 months.
“I have no targets. I’m yet to reach the fitness level to race in the 800m event but I’m fine with the 1500m,” Jinson told The Bridge.
Men’s 10000m: Abhishek Pal of Uttar Pradesh (Asian junior silver medallist and defending champions), Murli Kumar Gavit of Gujarat (Asian and Asian junior medallist), Kartik Kumar of UP (Asian jr medallist), Kisan Tadvi (of Maharashtra (Asian jr medallist)
Women’s 10000m: Sanjivani Jadhav of Maharashtra (Asian medallist), Kavita Yadav of UP (SAG medallist), Seema of Himachal Pradesh (Asian youth medallist)