CHENNAI: Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra is expected to join the athletics national camp in the next few days. The Target Olympics Podium Scheme (TOPS) division on Thursday approved the camp from October 15 (Friday) until December 31. According to the TOPS circular, 148 athletes (81 male and 67 female) and 47 coaches and support staff will be part of the camp. Out of the 148 athletes, 54 would be part of an assessment camp and coaches would "decide on their retention/weeding out". The camps will be in NIS Patiala and NCOE Bengaluru as of now. Since the sprint tracks at the SAI centre in Thiruvananthapuram are still under construction, the camp will be held in Patiala.
Chopra, who had been busy with numerous felicitation functions and obligations, is apparently looking foward to the camp, if sources close to the athlete are to be believed. There is a lot at stake in the next 12 months. He has to defend his Asian and Commonwealth Games titles and also take a crack at the elusive World Championships title. Without training, there are a few ounces to be shed and he is expected to spend some time to get into shape before strenuous training. His coach, Klaus Bartoneitz, is expected to join towards the end of the month.
Hima part of 100m team
Hima Das, 2018 400m junior world championships champion, will be part of the 100m camp. She was part of the 400m TOPS core group until the Olympics in July-August. According to the Athletics Federation of India, she was forced to shift to sprints (100m and 200m) after a back injury she sustained in early 2019. She, however, has contracted Covid-19 a few days ago.
Most of the top athletes are expected to join in a day or two. The list did not have major changes except for race-walker KT Irfan who failed to impress in Tokyo.
Only five names are there in the 400m women discipline, a category where Indians failed to perform in Tokyo.
Perhaps, AFI would be looking at some junior runners who had performed well in recent times. In the 400m men's section, there are 10 names. In the assessment section, there are five men and four women in 400m. Interestingly, Jisna Mathew will continue training in PT Usha School of Athletics.
No Amrish for Sable
Avinash Sable will no longer be training with his long-term coach, Amrish Kumar. According to the circular, it's Jaiveer Singh who would be training the steeplechase athletes. Interestingly, Amrish, towards the Olympics, was not too keen on continuing as the steeplechase coach for too long. If sources are to be believed, he did not agree with Sable on quite a few things. A foreign coach is expected to join the camp soon.
Amrish, however, said he has decided to not join the national camp because he has opened an academy (Captain Amrish Defence and Sports Academy) in Panjhokhra Jasala, Shamli. "I started the academy two weeks ago and already have 55 students with me (both online and offline)," he told this daily. "I had been coaching and part of Services and national camp for the last 20 years so I thought it is time for me to start an academy. It's just over 60km from Delhi and I expect to get students. Since August I have got some 1158 applications. I am still shortlisting it."
Long jump national holder M Sreeshankar is undecided on joining the camp for the time being. He is on the list but his coach and father, S Murali, has not been named. Also, the camp will be held in Bengaluru where the two have been reluctant to train. They prefer to train in their hometown of Palakkad. The AFI, however, want them to train in Bengaluru. After the Olympics, the federation had come down heavily on his poor performance in Tokyo. According to his team, discussions are on to find a solution. As of now, they will not travel to Bengaluru. His final two semesters of BSc (Mathematics) too are left.