Inter State Athletics begins today; Usha finds good prospect in Hima

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HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, June 25: With spots in the Indian squad for the 2018 Asian Games up for grabs, the 58th National Inter State Athletics Championships is expected to be a keenly contested affair. The championship would start at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium here on Tuesday. Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal will be the chief guest in the inaugural function which will be held in the afternoon.

The chairman of the organising committee Lakhya Konwar on Monday informed the media that around 800 athletes from the different parts of the country will take part in the championship. There will be altogether 13 track events and eight field events in the meet. He also added that all the winners apart from medal will receive one gamocha and a replica of one horned rhino. Keeping in mind the scorching heat the organiser has decided to host the meet in two sessions everyday-morning from 6-30 am to 9-30 am and afternoon from 4 pm to 9-30 pm.

Although a few high profile names including Commonwealth gold medalist javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra and Commonwealth silver medalist discus thrower Seema Antil have been granted exemption from participation, the track section of the four day long competition should likely throw up some big results.

Addressing media at the venue on Monday multiple Asian Gold medalist PT Usha said the women’s 400m would in particular be an event to watch out for. “The competition in certain track events will be really strong here in Guwahati as athletes are well prepared. Since it is the final selection trial, athletes are determined to give their best.”

She also praised Assam-girl Hima Das for producing some  good results this year. “She is really doing well and improving her performance in every competition. I hope she will continue this for the rest of the season,” Usha said.

The 18-year-old Hima, who is named brand ambassador of this meet, is expected to be the highlight of what will be her home event. Das has improved dramatically in recent months. The Assam sprinter clocked a personal best of 23.22 seconds in the 200m in Poland earlier this month while she ran 51.32 seconds in 400m during the Gold Coast CWG.

Sitting next to Usha Assam-girl, who looked very excited on Monday, said, “I can’t believe that I would be able to meet madam so easily and get some valuable tips from her. It’s just like dream comes true.”

Commenting on her preparation for the coming competition she said,” I have just returned from Poland where we went for month long training and I am feeling good. I am fully prepared for Inter State,” Hima said.

The secretary of the Athletics Federation of India C K Valson and a few office bearers of the association were also present in the media briefing.

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