Image Credits: @AFI
Tamil Nadu's Praveen Chithravel, who recently won the Best Athlete of the National Open Athletics Championships in Warangal with his 16.88m Triple Jump, is among the biggest attractions in the inaugural National U23 Athletics Championships at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium from Monday.
Delhi sprinter Taranjeet Kaur, who has caught the eye with her progress this year, will be the one to look out for in the women's 100m and 200m events. Karnataka's AT Daneswari and Kerala's Ancy Sojan can be expected to mount a challenge to try and stop Taranjeet Kaur from sprinting away with the double.
Delhi's KM Chanda, who was second to Harmilan Bains in four middle-distance races this year, will relish the chance to establish her supremacy in the women's 800m and 1500m events here. Maharashtra's long-distance runner Komal Chandrakant Jagdale is another who can claim a double by dominating the women's 5000m and 3000m Steeplechase events.
Similarly, Tamil Nadu sprinter Nitin Balakumar, 200m silver medalist in the National Inter-State and the National Open Athletics Championships this year, as well as his State-mate Long Jumper Sherin Abdul Gaffoor will also like to make the most of the opportunity to notch up a maiden titles at the senior level.
The Haryana 400m quartet of Ayush Dabas and Vikrant Panchal among men as well as Nancy and Kiran Pahal among women will start favourites on the basis of recent form but with less than a year to go for the Asian Games, many others will be eager to stake a claim for a berth in the National Camp.
As many as 619 athletes, including 208 women, will compete in the competition being held for this age category for the first time. AFI has introduced the championships with the intention of providing an extra competition for athletes who have graduated from the junior ranks but have yet to make a mark in the senior events.
The meet was scheduled to be held in 2020 but had to be postponed due to the pandemic. It was later allotted to Tamil Nadu Athletics Association to host it. The event was shifted to Delhi as the Tamil Nadu State Government and the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu did not respond to TNAA's requests for permission to stage the event in Chennai.
This will be the 12th national-level event that AFI and its units have conducted this year after the pandemic ravaged the world and affected sports events through nearly all of 2020. The AFI has drawn up an extensive Standard Operating Procedure for the events. It will be the first national-level athletics meet in the Capital since the Indian Grand Prix 2 on February 27, 2019.