Olympian and two-time defending champion Vikas Gowda’s participation at the Asian Athletics Championships to be held in Bhubaneshwar from July 6 to 9, has been confirmed by the Athletics Federation of India.

The discus thrower who won gold with an effort of 64.90 m in Pune in 2013 and in the last edition in China with a throw of 62.03m, had not been officially cleared till this evening despite his name appearing in the entry list for the competition.

He could only throw 57.79 metres in the trial conducted by the Selection Committee and that was thought to be well outside the medal bracket by some of the coaches, which led to a lot of deliberation before he was eventually given the green flag.

Gowda’s personal best of 62.35 metres this season came at Chula Vista in California on the 27th of May. The qualification mark for the IAAF World Championships 2017 is 65 metres.

“All athletes who were asked to report for confirmatory trials, including national record holders Vikas Gowda (discus throw) and Siddhanth Thingalaya (110m hurdles), have been cleared to compete in the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships to be held at the Kalinga Stadium here,” the AFI said in a release.

“Gowda, who will seek to complete a hat-trick of AAC victories, and Siddhanth Thingalaya went through the confirmatory tests on Sunday since they had not competed in any domestic event in the run up to the Asian Championships,” it added.

Long jumpers Siddharth Mohan Naik and Nayana James as well as triple jumpers Karthik Unnikrishnan and Joyline M Lobo were cleared after trials on Saturday.

“We are pleased with the results of the confirmatory tests for our athletes and are confident that the entire Indian squad will deliver high quality performances,” AFI President Adille Sumariwalla said.

According to CK Valson, the Secretary of the AFI, Gowda had to prove his fitness because the 33-year old was not present in India or training abroad. “Usually athletes have to undergo a trial or participate in a national Championship. Since he did neither, the Selection Committee wanted him to show his performances to them here (Bhubaneshwar).”

(with inputs from PTI)