IOA wants top athletes to show up at National Games as government looks to turn it into sporting spectacle
NEW DELHI: With Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat all set to host the 36th edition of the National Games in September-October, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that the country's top athletes - including the Olympic and CWG medallists - participate at the multi-discipline event.
TOI has learnt that the government is planning a grand festival of Indian sports at the Games, scheduled to be held in six cities of Gujarat from September 27 to October 10. The govt wants to showcase to the world its prowess at hosting big-ticket sporting events, with an eye on bidding for the 2030 Youth Olympics and 2036 Olympic Games in the future.
The Games, last held in Kerala in 2015, will take place in cities of Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot and Bhavnagar, with a total of 36 sports disciplines on display. More than 7,000 athletes from all 28 states and eight Union Territories are expected to participate. This will be the first time the Games will be held in Gujarat, ahead of the state assembly elections in December.
The dates of the Games have been planned in such a way that no major international sports competition clashes with its conduct, allowing the leading Indian athletes to either represent their Services board or states/UTs, or grace the occasion as guests. The message from the IOA to its state Olympic associations (SOAs) and member national sports federations (NSFs) is clear - ensure top athletes compete at the Games to boost the event's profile in view of the government's unprecedented interest.
In the case of boxing, a senior federation (BFI) official informed TOI that IOA has proposed a clear pathway where all the top boxers from the last year's men's and women's senior Nationals have been told to participate. "The CWG medallists in boxing in Birmingham have also been encouraged to compete at the Games, since there will be no national camp or international competition lined up during that time of the year," the official added.
Similarly, the Haryana Olympic Association (HOA) has been looking at the possibility of naming star wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Ravi Dahiya, Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik in the state's wrestling squad for the Games. The country's wrestlers will be next seen in action at the World Championships in Serbia's Belgrade between September 10 to 18, before returning home. The weightlifters, too, including Tokyo Games silver medallist Mirabai Chanu and CWG medallists Achinta Sheuli, Jeremy Lalrinnunga and Bindyarani Devi will be back in the country in the third week of September from their training camp in St Louis, USA.
Olympic champion javelin thrower, Neeraj Chopra's busy international season will be over with his participation (if he qualifies) at the Wanda Diamond Leagues Finals in Zurich on September 8-9.
The govt plans to aggressively bid for the 2030 Youth Olympics and 2036 Olympics by projecting Gujarat as the country's sports capital. The state government has already started preparations to initiate an exchange with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for hosting the Olympics in Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar. For this purpose, a multi-sport facility named Sardar Patel Sports Enclave, spread across 236 acres, is already coming up.
India will be hosting the 140th IOC session in Mumbai from May 30 to June 1 next year, where the host city for the Youth Olympics will be picked.
Jacobs and Warholm denied Diamond League finals wilds cards
PARIS: Olympic champions Marcell Jacobs and Karsten Warholm have had the door closed on their hopes of a wild card entry for next month's Diamond League finals in Zurich.
Jacobs, the 27-year-old Italian who won the 100m in Tokyo, has been kept out of the Diamond League this season by illness and injury but said after winning the European title last week that he wanted a chance to have a go at the best American sprinters.
His hopes of beating them and winning the world title disappeared when he withdrew before the semi-finals of last month's world championships in Oregon
Zurich's co-meeting director Andreas Hediger told AFP there was no way round the rules to allow either Jacobs or Norwegian 400m hurdles world record holder Karsten Warholm to compete in the climax to the season on September 7/8.
Hediger added Jacobs's entourage had been told this.
"The Diamond League qualification rules state that there is only one qualification for the finals via collecting points at the 13 series meetings," he said in an email.
"The best 6-10 athletes (depending on the discipline) according to the collected points then qualify for the final.
"There is no other way, no one can be invited who has not qualified."
"One can disagree in good faith about the sense or nonsense of this rule and it is also regularly discussed within the Diamond League," Hediger said.
"Currently, the majority opinion is that an athlete who has not earned any points during the season in the WDL should not take the 'cherry off the cake' from the other athletes at the finals, regardless of why no points were or could be earned."
Warholm's preparations for the world championships were also blighted by injury that restricted the Norwegian to the world championships -- he finished seventh -- and the European championships, where he won title.
Winners of each Diamond League discipline receive a trophy and $30,000.
Neeraj Chopra to compete in Lausanne Diamond League on Friday
NEW DELHI: Olympic champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra has recovered from the "minor" groin strain injury he had suffered last month and is set to take part in the Diamond League Meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on August 26.
A good show in Lausanne can ensure Chopra a berth in the Diamond League Finals in Zurich on September 7 and 8 as he is at fourth spot in the standings. The top six in the standings will make the Zurich Finals. The Lausanne event is the last leg which has a men's javelin throw competition.
The 24-year-Chopra had pulled out of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games last month due to the injury he had suffered during the final of the World Championships on July 24 in Eugene, USA, where he had won a historic silver.
He pulled out of the Birmingham CWG (July 28-August 8) just two days before the start of the multi-sport event as he was advised a four-week rest by his medical team. He then underwent rehabilitation in Germany.
"Feeling strong and ready for Friday. Thanks for the support, everyone. See you in Lausanne!" Chopra tweeted.
Chopra's name figured among the participants for the Lausanne leg when the organisers issued the list on August 17 but his appearance in the competition had been a matter of speculation due to the injury.
Athletics Federation of India President Adille Sumariwalla had said that Chopra will take part in Lausanne if he is "medically fit".
After his second place finish in the Stockholm leg -- first ever on podium -- on June 30, Chopra is in fourth spot with seven points in the standings. Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch of Czech Republic leads the standings with 20 points, followed by Germany's Julian Weber (19 points) and world champion Anderson Peters (16 points) of Grenada.
At the start of the season, Chopra had said that he would like to do well in the Diamond Leg Finals.
The groin injury may have affected his preparations, but Chopra can aim for his maiden Diamond League title as the six-man field in Lausanne is not that strong as compared to the Stockholm leg.
Peters is recovering from injury after he was beaten up on a boat in his country earlier this month. Vadlejch is in the fray and so is struggling Keshorn Walcott, the 2012 Olympic champion.
Chopra's season best is 89.94m while Vadlejch has a season's best of 90.88m and Walcott 89.07m.
This will be Chopra's second competition in a Diamond League Meeting this season. Before that, he finished fourth in Zurich in August 2018.
He has taken part in eight Diamond League meets so far -- three in 2017, four in 2018 and one this year. He had two fourth-place finishes, the other one being in Doha in May 2018, when he had thrown 87.43m, before taking the second place in Stockholm.
The winner of each Diamond Discipline at the Final will become "Diamond League Champion" and be awarded a Diamond Trophy, USD 30,000 prize money and a wild card for the World Athletics Championships 2023.
Birmingham CWG silver medallist Avinash Sable was earlier among the participants in the men's 3000m steeplechase but his name is no longer in the list.
I have stopped following the herd now, I try to lead them: Avinash Sable
PUNE: Avinash Sable has learnt to break records, win medals, and beat the Kenyans. But more importantly, he has learnt to think like a winner.
One chat with the Beed runner assures that his silver in the 3000m steeplechase event at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games was no fluke. As one listens to him speak, he comes across as a solid prospect for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
An army runner, Sable reckons he is a changed man post his experience at the Tokyo Olympics.
Sable, who returned to the Army Sports Institute, where he is training for the Diamond League, remains unperturbed with the hype that surrounds him. He stays humble about most of his achievements, including breaking the National record nine times.
“I never felt breaching NR is an achievement. My aim is to take the timing as low as I can. I want to take it to the sub-8 minute. The aim is to take the timing to a level where the upcoming athletes feel motivated to breach that and at the same time believe that if I can achieve it, they can do it too,” Sable, 27, told TOI.
Sable was noticed first when he broke Gopal Saini’s 37-year-old record in 2018. However, he feels his records shouldn’t take this long to break.
“The faster the records break, the better it is for the growth of the event. If records set by me take another 30 years to break, we will go 30 years behind the world. When I took up this sport, I had a target of 8.29s. The coming batch will now have the target of running 8.05s or maybe 8mins and it is achievable.”
Sable feels training abroad has changed his perspective and has helped him get rid of the complexes that Indian athletes normally have.
“I always thought athletes from other countries have something special that we lack. I thought their training and diet was better than ours, but my perception changed when I went to the US to train with them. I realized that they do similar things, eat things that I also eat. It boosted my confidence when I started beating them in training. So, then it boils down to the efforts you put in. Nobody is unbeatable,” he said.
At the CWG, Sable’s silver came by beating a powerful group of Kenyans. He feels Kenyans win as they can implement strategies while running in groups.
“You need at least 2-3 athletes to make strategies, being the lone runner, I don’t have that luxury. But I have now learnt to break their strategies. At the World Championships, the race was made so slow and since I didn’t have experience of something like this, I fell in the trap. I later realized that I could have gone faster than them and changed the pace of the race. I did that at the CWG. I had prepared to break their strategy and run my own race,” Sable said.
The Indian finished his race in 8.31.75s at the World Championships, his slowest time in five years.
“I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I have stopped following the herd now. I now try to lead them.”
Sable says he has changed as a person and as an athlete after his poor show at the Tokyo Olympics. Sable had timed 8:18:12s in the heats and failed to qualify for the final.
“I was a different person before Tokyo. When you get early success things look good, but it changes once you start to struggle. I have learnt a lot from my failure at the Olympics. Like everybody else, I was hoping to win a medal. But when I couldn’t, I thought a lot for three months and I questioned the purpose of training when I couldn’t win medals. A lot of overthinking happened, and I thought of quitting and didn’t feel like getting out of my bed for months while being home,” he admitted.
“But then I realized I had to put in more effort and when I am getting so much support from the federation, the government, and the army, along with people who are directly responsible for my training, the least I could do was work hard. I got out of the mind games and started training again,” he said.
Sweden's Armand Duplantis retains European pole vault title
MUNICH: Sweden's Armand 'Mondo' Duplantis retained his European pole vault title in comprehensive fashion in Munich on Saturday.
Duplantis, fresh from breaking his own world record in Eugene as he clinched world gold with 6.21 metres last month, set a championship record of 6.06 metres for gold at the Olympic Stadium.
Germany's Bo Kanda Lita Baehre claimed silver with a best of 5.85m, while Norway's Pal Haugen Lillefosse took bronze (5.75).
Coming into the continental showpiece, Duplantis was on an 18-competition winning streak and was once again a class apart from a field that struggled throughout in cool, damp conditions.
Duplantis came in at 5.65m, with two rivals already out of the reckoning.
The US-born Swede sailed over that mark, a further trio of vaulters falling by the wayside, and passed at 5.75m, as did France's three-time European champion and former Olympic gold medallist Renaud Lavillenie.
The Frenchman faltered three times at 5.85m, however, while Duplantis flew over at that mark. Similar successes came at 5.90 and 5.95m.
Lita Baehre was by that stage out of the competition, so Duplantis had the bar raised to 6.06m.
The Swede readied himself, launching down the runway and propelling himself well clear to better by 1cm the previous championship best set by the Soviet and Ukrainian great Sergey Bubka.
Any thoughts of a fresh bid at bettering his own world record were short-lived, however, Duplantis quickly telling officials he'd had enough.
Neeraj Chopra can compete in Lausanne Diamond League if 'medically fit': AFI chief
NEW DELHI: Olympic champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, who pulled out of the recent Commonwealth Games due to a minor injury, can compete in the Lausanne Diamond League Meeting on August 26 if he is "medically fit", according to the top boss of Athletics Federation of India (AFI).
The 24-year-old Chopra figured in the list of competitors for the Lausanne leg of the Diamond League Meeting on August 26.
But he is yet to take a call on his participation in the prestigious competition.
"Neeraj will participate in (Lausanne) if he is declared medically fit," Sumariwalla told PTI on Saturday.
Chopra had missed the Birmingham CWG due to a "minor" groin strain he suffered while winning a historic silver in the World Championships in Eugene, USA last month. He was advised one-month rest.
"Neeraj is working on his rehabilitation and his team will take a call about the Lausanne Diamond League closer to the event," a source had said a few days back.
Birmingham CWG silver medallist Avinash Sable also figured in the men's 3000m steeplechase event.
National Para Athletics Championships: Sumit Antil, Yogesh Kathuniya create new world record
BENGALURU: Tokyo Paralympics champion Javelin thrower Sumit Antil and silver medallist discus thrower Yogesh Kathuniya created new world records at the ongoing fourth Indian Open National Para Athletics Championships at the Sri Kanteerava stadium here on Friday.
Sumit, picked up from here left off in Tokyo, and created a new world record after hurling the spear to a record distance of 68.62m in his event.
The 24-year-old para athlete's previous world record throw of 68.55m in the F64 category came at the Tokyo Games last year. He also broke the world record thrice during his six attempts.
Yogesh, on the other hand, also created a new world record in the discus throw event with a throw of 48.34m.
Men's world champion Tamirat Tola withdraws from London Marathon
LONDON: Ethiopia's men's world champion Tamirat Tola said on Friday he had pulled out of October's London Marathon due to muscle fatigue.
Tola won gold in Eugene, Oregon, last month in a championship record time of two hours, five minutes and 36 seconds.
"It is with great regret that I am unable to run this year’s TCS London Marathon," said the 31-year-old.
Neeraj Chopra figures in list of Diamond League Meeting competitors
NEW DELHI: Olympic champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, who pulled out of the recent Commonwealth Games due to a minor injury, figured in the list of competitors for the Lausanne Diamond League Meeting on August 26.
But he is yet to take a call on his participation in the prestigious competition.
The 24-year-old had missed the Birmingham CWG due to a "minor" groin strain he suffered while winning a historic silver in the World Championships in Eugene, USA last month. He was advised one-month rest.
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