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Indian athletics season begins amid rising expectations

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After their strong showing in 2022, India’s best will be keen to impress in the Indian Open Throws and Jumps Competition at the start of the season.



Commonwealth Games gold medallist Eldhose Paul (left) and silver medalist Abdulla Aboobacker




Indian athletes will look to build on last year’s stellar performances as they begin a new season with the Indian Open Throws and Jumps Competition at the Inspire Institute of Sport here from Wednesday.

Expectations have surged with Indian athletes taking impressive strides in international meets last season. India won eight medals in athletics at the Commonwealth Games with four of them coming in jumps. This, besides Neeraj Chopra’s yet another fine year winning silver at the World Championships and a maiden Diamond League Trophy, and Avinash Sable’s historic CWG silver medal.

In jumps and throws especially, Indian athletes showed steady progress last season with three each qualifying in men’s long jump and triple jump at the world championships.

In the Birmingham CWG, triple jumpers Eldhose Paul and Abdulla Aboobacker made it a gold-silver finish while long jumper M Sreeshankar won silver.

Paul and Aboobacker, and the promising Praveen Chithravel, will compete in triple jump at the JSW High Performance Training Centre here. The trio pushed each other last year. IIS athlete Chithravel, who narrowly missed out on a medal at CWG, is coming off a good showing at the Asian Indoor Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan in February where he jumped 16.98m to take second place. It will be a good competition at the start of the season with all three in fray.

Paul and Aboobacker have been training under India’s foreign coach Denis Kapustin of Russia, triple jump bronze medallist at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

“There have been changes in their training regimen under Kapustin and this competition will show how well they have adapted to it,” said former international jumper Harikrishnan, also an India coach.

“Paul is competing after September. It will give him a good feel of his body and (give the feedback) how well he has trained for the big season. The plan will be to go big with his jumps in March-April and try and qualify for the world championships,” he said. “It will be interesting to see how the three push each other because after CWG they have gained confidence and want to improve their performance.”

Jeswin Aldrin will be on similar ground when he competes against Muhammed Anees Yahiya in men’s long jump. In the absence of Sreeshankar, the two will be raring to go against each other and make a statement. Anees finished 5th at CWG (7.97m).

Aldrin has been on a high. He has started the season by winning silver at the Asian Indoor Championships clearing 7.97m. At the National Games in October, he had a big 8.26m that saw him qualify for this year’s Budapest world championships.

A total of 16 events will be held over two days. Shot Putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor and Karanveer Singh, who won gold and silver at the Asian Indoor meet, will also grab the spotlight. Toor, the national record holder (21.49m), will look to impress and qualify for the world championships in August.

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