Several stars to miss first Indian Grand Prix athletics

The 2018 Asian Games 800m champion, Manjeet Singh of Haryana, and 400m national record holder Muhammed Anas are among several leading athletes who are set to skip the upcoming first Indian Grand Prix scheduled to be held at Patiala’s National Institute of Sports (NIS). Response to the other events of the competition is also not encouraging, said sources.

However, national 100m record holders in the men’s and women’s categories, Amiya Kumar Mallick and Dutee Chand, respectively, have confirmed their participation in the season-opening track competition.

“I’m treating the competition as a warmup race for the Federation Cup to be held next month. I will see how my body reacts to the race as I’m racing after a long gap due to the pandemic and then prepare for the competition next month,” Mallick told IANS.

Competition in the men’s category will be held in 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 5,000m, 400n hurdles, long jump, triple jump, and shot put. And women will compete in four track races –100m, 200m, 400m, 800m — and three field events — long jump, shot put and discus throw.

Since the response to the inaugural Indian Grand Prix is poor, there will be direct finals, said a source. In the men’s 400m, Anas is a notable absentee. Even Rajiv Arokia, the second best quarter-miler in the country, isn’t competing. There are eight entries in the 400m while seven athletes will contest the 800m race.

The national record holder in men’s long jump, Murali Sreeshankar, is also missing from the entry list.

In the women’s 200m race, there are only three entries. Women’s discus and shot put, too, have three entries each.

The competition is being held in select disciplines to build up for the main competition in March.