NEW DELHI: The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has decided not to drop long jumper M Sreeshankar and 20km walker KT Irfan from the Olympic contingent despite their declining form, but for players who have not performed well in these sports. He warned of action against him on Friday.
The AFI’s selection committee in an emergency meeting took a “unanimous decision” not to drop the two athletes from the 26-member squad. After poor performance in the recently held trials in Bengaluru, some members were of the opinion that these two players should be dropped from the team but the committee said that the federation conducted the trial to assess the fitness for form (rhythm). No.
AFI President Adil Sumariwala said the coaches of both the athletes were discussed about their poor form in the trials.
“The coaches have promised that their respective athletes will do their best in Tokyo. Sreeshankar’s father and coach have assured him of good performance.
“If athletes do not perform well in the Olympics, we will take action against them. This message is for all those (athletes) who are participating in the Tokyo Games.
During a fitness trial held at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) center in Bengaluru on Wednesday, Sreeshankar’s best jump was just 7.48 metres. He qualified for the Tokyo Olympics with a jump of 8.26m during the Federation Cup in March. Sreeshankar did not participate in the National Inter-State Championships (June 25-29) after warming up on the field at NIS (National Institute of Sports) Patiala. His father S Murali, who is going to Tokyo with Sreeshankar as coach, said he would do well in the Olympics. Asked about Sreeshankar’s fall in rhythm, he said, “He (Srishankar) will do well. Not a big problem.”
Irfan’s fitness trial took place on July 9. He was the first track and field athlete from India to qualify for the Olympics during the Asian Walking Championships in Nomi, Japan in March 2019. His last competition was the national walk in March in Ranchi where he did not finish the race. He contracted COVID-19 in May but has recovered from the disease.
A 44-member contingent, including 25 athletes from India, will leave for Tokyo on Friday evening. In athletics, India has highest expectations from javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra. He will reach Tokyo along with his coach and physio on July 26 from the training ground in Sweden. Athletics events in the Olympics will start from July 30 and will run till August 8.