If India opened with a high, celebrating Mirabai Chanu’s silver medal, the end can be equally exciting with CWG and Asian Games champion Neeraj Chopra and Shivpal Singh in action in men’s javelin throw, which will begin with the qualifying round on August 4. The final is scheduled on the penultimate day of the Games, August 7.
Armyman Avinash Sable will kick-start India’s campaign, lining up in the second heat of men’s 3000m steeplechase in a field that is led by Kenya’s world No. 3 Abraham Kibiwot who has a season’s best of 8 minutes, 07.81s. The Indian, ranked 20 in the world, needs to better his career-best time (8:20.20s) to harbour any hopes. The first three in each of the three heats, plus the six fastest will advance to the final.
India’s best bet in the women’s section is Kamalpreet Kaur in discus throw. The national champion battled back from lockdown fatigue and is high on confidence, preferring to ignore the last-minute controversy amplified by her teammates.
“I expect her to make the final and from then on it depends on the day. There are at least 5-6 throwers who are in the same range so you can’t predict anything,” Kamalpreet’s coach Rakhi Tyagi told TOI.
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“She is feeling a bit lonely out there but I’m trying to motivate her by talking to her over the phone,” added Tyagi who is helping out from Patiala.
Despite the pressure to perform or the threat of punishment from the federation, the Tokyo Games would be valuable experience for national record holders M Sreeshankar (men’s long jump), Tajinderpal Singh Toor (men’s shot put) and Priyanka Goswami (women’s 20km walk). The race-walking events will be held in Sapporo, more than a 1,000 km away from Tokyo, where six Indians will be in action.
One of Milkha Singh’s biggest wishes was to see an Indian standing on the podium in athletics and 2016 World junior champion Neeraj and Shivpal are both capable of fulfilling the wish of the ‘Flying Sikh,’ who passed away recently.
ON YOUR MARK…
July 30 – Avinash Sable (3,000m steeplechase, Round 1). Final: August 2; MP Jabir (men’s 400m hurdles, Round 1), Semifinals: Aug 1; Dutee Chand (women’s 100m Round 1), Semis & final: Jul 31; Mixed 4x400m relay (Round 1); Final: Jul 31
Jul 31 – Kamalpreet Kaur, Seema Punia (women’s discus throw). Final: Aug 2; M Sreeshankar (men’s long jump, Qualifying round). Final: Aug 2
August 2 – Dutee Chand (women’s 200m, Round 1). Final: Aug 3
Aug 3 – Annu Rani (women’s javelin throw, Qualifying round); Final: Aug 6; Tajinderpal Singh Toor (men’s shot put, Qualifying round); Final: Aug 5
Aug 4 – Neeraj Chopra, Shivpal Singh (men’s javelin throw). Final: Aug 7
Aug 5 – Sandeep Kumar, Rahul, KT Irfan (men’s 20km race walk, final)
Aug 6 – Gurpreet Singh (men’s 50km race walk, final); Priyanka Goswami, Bhawna Jat (women’s 20km race walk, final); Men’s 4x400m relay. Final: Aug 7