New Delhi: As a result of many top athletes giving the Indian Grand Prix series a miss, the Athletics Federation of India may open up the competition to international athletes in 2020.
“We have held these four Grand Prix because we want athletes to come up and participate. Some of them have chosen to miss it. We’re thinking about inviting athletes from outside the country so that the standard of competition goes up. If there is sufficient competition, we hope that our top athletes will come and participate,” said AFI secretary CK Valson.
Javelin Thrower Neeraj Chopra and Discus Thrower Seema Punia were the only two athletes exempt from the competition. Quarter-miler Hima Das’ name was in the entry list, but the Assamese athlete had to withdraw due to her upcoming examinations.
The Indian Grand Prix’s second leg in New Delhi witnessed only few of the top athletes turn up. Sprinter Dutee Chand, Hurdler Ayyasamy Dharun, Discus Thrower Navjeet Dhillon and the other members of the 4X400m women’s relay gold medallists at the Asian Games turned out at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
Chand qualified for the Asian Athletics Championships to be held in Doha in April, winning the 200m with a time of 23.30 seconds. Anjali Devi, who had earlier clocked 51.79s in the 400m earlier this season, finished second to Chand with a time of 24.15s.
Ramesh Nagapuri, Chand’s coach, said that qualification for the 100m was also a priority. “We hope to wrap it up by the Federation Cup. She ran the 100m at IGP-1 in Patiala, and she qualified for the Asian Track and Field Championships here.”
The women’s 400m, expected to be one of the strongest fields at the IGP-2, witnessed slow times with the runners split between two legs. MR Poovamma finished at the top of the combined standings, with a time of 54.12 seconds.
VK Vismaya, who ran the final leg of the relay in Jakarta, came second but hoped to improve on her time. “I hope to come to my best time of 52.4 seconds set last year. I hope to peak later in the season. The 400m is a strong field, as the competition showed today,” said Vismaya, who had a time of 54.76 seconds.
The quarter-milers will have the World Relay Championships in Japan to look forward to, in addition to the Federation Cup, Inter-State, Asian and World Athletics Championships.
Ayyasamy Dharun, silver medallist at the Asian Games, won his second gold of the IGP series of the season, and ran a sub-50 time of 49.94 seconds.
Ajay Kumar Saroj, winner of the 1500m at the Asian Athletics Championships at Bhubaneswar was a last-minute entry but won with a time of 3:46.10 minutes. PU Chitra, also a winner at Bhubaneswar won a slow race in 4:20.76 minutes, but was pushed all the way by Lili Das, who finished only 0.13 seconds slower than the Asian Games bronze medallist.
Arokia Rajiv, who ran the 100m at IGP-1, ran his preferred 400m here and was fastest with a time of 46.49 seconds.
Nisar Ahmed, recently found over-age by AFI’s bone-density test at the National Youth Athletics Championships, won the 200m with a time of 22.05 seconds.