Besides Tejaswin Shankar, AFI names additional five athletes for the CWG
AFI said they have included another five names including Tejaswin Shankar for selection to the CWG games on the condition that the quota for athletics increases from 36.
High jumper Tejaswin Shankar's writ petition in the Delhi High Court has led to four more athletes being named by the national federation, though their participation depends on the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) agreeing to increase the allotted quota.
During a hearing on a plea by Shankar, a national record holder, challenging his exclusion from the upcoming Birmingham Commonwealth Games (July 28 to August 8) squad, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) informed the court that its selection committee has added five more athletes, subject to IOA agreeing to increase the quota from the current 36.
Besides Shankar, the other four athletes are Asian Games gold medallist heptathlete Swapna Barman, marathon runners Srinu Bugatha and Anish Thapa, and Jilna MV for the 4x100m relay event. Jilna was originally named in the 37-member team announced on June 16 as a 4x100m relay runner but her name was later withdrawn to stick to the allotted quota of 36.
It remains to be seen what the IOA tells the High Court on July 4 regarding AFI's request for an increase in the quota of the athletics team. It could be a tricky situation for the IOA to increase the quota of athletics teams with just a little over a month to go for the CWG, as it must have already sorted out the number of Indian participants in each sport. The deadline for the IOA to submit the Indian team to the CWG organisers is June 30.
In this scenario, the IOA may have to make a last-minute request to the Birmingham CWG organisers to increase India's quota if the additional athletes are to be accommodated. "Fingers crossed, we will have to wait and watch what the IOA tells the court in the next hearing," one official said.
The High Court on Friday expressed hope that the IOA would increase the athletics team quota in the Indian contingent for the Birmingham CWG. But at the same time, the court also made it clear that if the quota is not increased, it cannot direct the IOA to increase it.
Advocate Parth Goswami, who represented the AFI, said if the IOA agrees to increase the quota from the existing 36 athletes, the additional five would also be included in the contingent. He said in case the quota is not increased, the list of previously selected 36 athletes will be final. Shankar has sought to direct the AFI not to disqualify him from participating at the CWG 2022 based on non-attendance at the Interstate Senior Athletics Championships, and be allowed to compete for meeting the qualifying standard at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships in the USA.
He had won gold in the NCAA Championships with an effort of 2.27m on June 10, which is the exact qualifying standard prescribed by the AFI. Barman, Bugatha and Thapa have also crossed the CWG qualifying standards of the AFI. Barman did not take part in the National Inter-State Championships but had collected 5800 total points in the seven events while winning gold at the Federation Cup in April.
The CWG qualifying standard is 5650 points. Bugatha clocked 2:16:26 during the Dhaka Marathon in January while Thapa ran 2:16.41 while finishing second in New Delhi Marathon in March. The AFI qualifying standard for the CWG marathon event is 2:18:40. Nitender Singh Rawat, who won the New Delhi Marathon, was already named to the athletics team last week.
Jilna was part of the Kerala quartet that finished third in the women's 4x100m relay. She ran 11.90s to finish fourth in one of the semifinal heats in the 100m dash and could not make it to the final. Shankar's name was in the long list submitted by the AFI to the IOA a few months back. But Barman, Thapa and Jilna were not included in the long list. The AFI had asked the state units to send names and details of their respective athletes to be included in the list, which is required for accreditation purposes.