India has made a bid to host the 2024 World U-20 Athletics Championships in Bhopal in case Peru pulls out from organising the junior showpiece event, which is allotted to the South American country, the national federation president Adille Sumariwalla said on Saturday.
It is, however, not yet certain if India's bid will materialise as World Athletics has recently told Sumariwalla that Peru may still come back to host the event in Lima.
"Peru originally backed out, so World Athletics put out a bid which we applied for. But I had a World Athletics meeting two days back and WA told me that Peru has said they might come back as host. So, I am not sure what is going to happen. The situation is little fluid as of now," Sumariwalla told reporters at the sidelines of the National Inter-State Athletics Championships.
"We will know on August 12-13 during the meeting of the World Athletics Council (of which he himself is also a member) which will take a decision whether Peru will still be the host or other countries can bid for it.
"If Peru agrees to host the junior championships, World Athletics will go ahead with that. Then we have to pull back the bid," he added.
India will not be the lone bidder even in case of Peru losing the junior championships, as four or five other countries have also expressed interest, he said. Peru was allotted the 2024 World Junior Championships in December 2021 but in April this year, it expressed its inability to host the event due to political instability, social unrest and natural disasters.
"We are looking at Bhopal at the moment if we are to host the championship. Bhopal is putting up a brand new infrastructure at the same place they held the Shooting World Cup. They are having a full-fledged synthetic track, a warm-up track besides football and hockey fields. Foundation has already been laid, work is in full swing. We hope the facilities will be ready if India is to host the world junior championships," he said.
Asked if India can bid for other editions of the biennial championships in case Peru gets back the hosting right for the 2024 tournament, Sumariwalla said, "I think a host country is already there for the 2026 championships, we can think of 2028 but we will take a decision when the time for bidding comes."
Dutee's coach to be national junior team coach
Sumariwalla also said that the Athletics Federation of India will appoint a High Performance Director from abroad for the junior and youth teams. "We have advertised for the post and have shortlisted two candidates from Germany and another country. We have to close in and finalise that," he said.
He also announced that sprint coach N Ramesh will henceforth be the national junior team coach. Ramesh, who has been the coach of Dutee Chand, had gone to Korea as coach at the recent Asian Junior Championships.
The ongoing National Inter-State Championships — the final selection trial for the upcoming Asian Games — was earlier to be held mid July but had to be advanced by one month, after the Olympic Council of Asia made a new rule that all the member countries should send their teams 75 days prior to competitions.
"It is ridiculous we have to send entries 75 days before, never heard of. Normally, the last date of sending entries is 15 days before the competition."
Asked if those athletes who have breached the Asian Games qualifying marks in events before the ongoing championship, will be considered for selection in the Indian team, Sumariwalla said, "I can't say anything. It is up to the selection committee to decide. The committee will decide the team."
Grassroots programme, search for javelin coach
Sumariwalla also said the AFI has selected around 1,000 kids from around 6,000 from the recent National Inter-District Junior Athletics Meet held in Patna, to groom them for the future under the High Performance Director for junior and youth, who will devise a programme.
"We have selected around 1,000 such kids (U-14 and U-16) and they will undergo a series of tests in six venues to find out for which events they can be groomed as future elite athletes. We can prune them down after these tests or we may select all of them if they are talented.
"The number of these kids will be increased next year as more youngsters will be added from NIDJAM next year."
He said Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) Limited has agreed to support financially in the testing of the kids.
"Our experts will test the mental aptitude of the kids towards athletics, their physical fitness, mental fitness etc. They will be provided with recreational facilities also as well as education at various Sports Authority of India Training Centres," said Indian athletics head coach Radhakrishnan Nair.
"We have been contacting these 962 kids on phone and through mail but around 500-plus, that is about 60 per cent have responded and confirmed their participation for these tests."
Sumariwalla also said that the AFI is "desperately" looking for two foreign javelin coaches but most of them do not want to stay in India for a long term.
"They (the foreign coaches) want us to send the javelin throwers to their country, that is the issue."