CHENNAI: From being almost cancelled to attracting star athletes like Dutee Chand, the 5th Indian Grand Prix beginning in Patiala on Friday will see 16 events for men and women.
As the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) said earlier, most of India’s top 4x400m athletes and the relay teams will continue their respective national camps in Jablonec nad Nisou in Czech Republic. After their stint in Spala, Poland, where some of them won medals and bettered national records, the team has decided to extend the stay till the World Championships in September and might even miss the Inter-State Athletics meet in Lucknow later this month.
But for the others, the Grand Prix in Patiala will be another chance to qualify for the Worlds before the Inter-State meet. Some of the 400m runners like Kunhu Muhammed, Jithu Baby and Alex Anthony, who were part of the Indian squad at the World Relays in Tokyo, will be participating in the event.
Javelin thrower Davinder Singh and women’s discus thrower Navjeet Kaur Dhillon are among the other prominent names in action in Patiala. Long jumper M Sreeshankar, who has secured Worlds qualification with a jump of 8.20m at the Open Nationals in Bhubaneswar last year, feels the Indian Grand Prix will ease the pressure. “Right now, I am ranked 32 in the world and the top 32 can participate. But I haven’t reached 8.20m yet this year and two competitions before the Worlds in Doha will be ideal preparation,” he said.