India’s National Open Athletics Championships 2021 begin at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Warangal, Telangana, from Wednesday, September 15.
This year will mark the 60th edition of the annual athletics showpiece organised by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI). It’s the first senior athletics event in India since the inter-state meet late in June.
Over 500 athletes from across the country will compete for medals in 48 events (24 men’s, 23 women’s and one mixed relay) at the four-day meet. The championships conclude on September 19.
Most of India’s Tokyo Olympics athletics contingent, including gold medal-winning javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra and sprinter Dutee Chand, are giving the event a miss.
The likes of Dhanalakshmi Sekar, Arokia Rajiv, Subha Venkatesan and Naganathan Pandi also opted out since they didn’t have enough time to prepare for the competition after returning from Tokyo.
Race walker Bhawna Jat and runner Revathi Veeramani, who was part of India’s mixed 4×400m relay team in Japan, are the only Tokyo 2020 Olympians competing at the event. Shot putter Kamalpreet Kaur was in the initial entry list but pulled out as she is nursing a shoulder injury.
Manish Singh Rawat, who represented India in the 20km race walk at Rio 2016, will also be in the fray.
Other notable athletes in action are 2018 Asian Games gold medallists Arpinder Singh (men’s triple jump) and Swapna Burman (heptathlon), and 2014 Asian Games silver medal winner Manju Bala (hammer throw). Discus thrower Navjeet Dhillon, bronze medallist at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, will also be in action.
The absence of big names, however, will give youngsters a chance to shine at the event.
Haryana’s Summy, who was part of the Indian 4x400m mixed relay team which won bronze at the recently concluded 2021 World Athletics U20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya, will be one of the several young guns to keep an eye on at the Warangal meet.