AFI's flagship grassroots talent search program NIDJAM begins in Patna on Friday
The National Inter-District Junior Athletics Meet (NIDJAM) will be hosted by Patna and will take place on synthetic track for first time.
The National Inter-District Junior Athletics Meet (NIDJAM), the national federation's flagship grassroots talent search program which begin on Friday, will be held for the first time on a synthetic track.
The event, which returns after a two-year gap due to COVID-19 restrictions, will also ring in changes in the competition rules to prevent early specialization and over-training of teenage athletes.
A total of 5482 athletes from 599 districts across the country have entered the competition for boys and girls in two age groups, under-14 and under-16. It was last held in Tirupati in November 2019.
It will be a maiden national-level exposure event for many of the under-16 boys and girls who have entered the competition here. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar declared the event open at a simple but colorful ceremony at the Patliputra Sports Complex here on Thursday.
Competitions will begin on Friday. Athletics Federation on India (AFI) President Adille Sumariwalla said regulations have been revised this time to prevent early specialization and to encourage coaches to not over-train teenage athletes.
"We want the youngsters to enjoy the sport and not to face being burnt out because of early specialization and over-training," he said. "We have reduced the sprint distance to 80m even for the under-16 group and restricted the long jump runway to five strides.
Besides, it will not allow the Fosbury Flop in High Jump and allow only standing throws in Discus and Shot Put. The intention is to find raw talent that can be nurtured for the future," he said.
A good measure of the young athletes' enthusiasm can be gauged from the fact that there could be as many as 56 heats in the boys under-16 80m sprint and 39 heats in the girls under-16 80m sprint.
"Due to the circumstances caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we could not conduct the meeting in 2020 and 2021. We are extremely happy that we are back with a bigger and better version now," Sumariwalla said.
He thanked the Bihar government for hosting NIDJAM and the Rural Electrification Corporation for underwriting the cost of travel of the teams from across the country. "I am hoping that NIDJAM will be the first milestone in Bihar's journey to becoming a powerhouse in track and field sport," the AFI chief said.