The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has named a 22-member Indian contingent for the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene, USA. India has so far won just a solitary medal in the biennial event in history and would be eyeing to better their medal tally, starting 15th July 2022.
Here, we take a look at how the members of the Indian contingent have performed this season.
Neeraj Chopra has been one of the standout performers for India in 2022. Though he started his season late, the 24-year-old has improved his national record twice already and even earned his first ever Diamond League podium in Stockholm with a throw of 89.94m. Chopra is currently agonisingly close to breaking that 90m barrier and would be India's biggest hope at the World Athletics Championships.
The other men's javelin thrower, Rohit Yadav has been one of the more consistent Indian athletes this season. He started his season with a throw of 77.89m at the India Open Throws in February and has since consistently thrown above 80m with a personal best of 82.54m at the Inter State Athletics last month in Chennai.
Ever since his debacle at Tokyo, Murali Sreeshankar has been on an upward curve. He has been jumping above 8m for fun this season and set a national record with a massive 8.36m leap at the Federation Cup in April earlier this year.
Muhammed Anees Yahiya
Muhammed Anees Yahiya has been around the Indian domestic setup for quite some now, but the 2022 season seems to be his coming of age. The Kerala lad has been consistently leaping over 8m and has twice jumped 8.15m to break into the Indian contingent for the World Championships.
Jeswin Aldrin has had a mixed season so far. He started slowly before big jumps at the Indian Grand Prix in Thiruvananthapuram in March and the Federation Cup in the following month put him in the spotlight. The 20-year-old has endured a tough run since then by struggling badly at international meets and had to rely on two trials by the AFI to break into the Indian contingent for World Championships, despite having broken the qualification standard early on in the season.
Avinash Sable has continued to rise in stature with each passing month this season. The Maharashtra born armyman has been breaking his own national records for fun and remains one of the dark horses for India, who can pull out a surprise podium in men's 3000m steeplechase at Eugene.
Abdulla Aboobacker has been registering some performances in triple jump over the past few years. He took it up a notch with a leap of 17.19m at the Indian Grand Prix in Bhubaneswar before following it up with a jump of 17.14m at the Inter States in Chennai the next month.
The 21-year-old Praveen Chitravel has competed in only three competitions this season, but he finds himself among the three Indians who ahve broken the 17m barrier in triple jump alongside Aboobacker and U Karthik with a best of 17.18m.
Three Indian triple jumpers have broken the 17m barrier this season, but Eldhose was the first one to come close with jumps of 16.93m, 16.95m and 16.99m in his first three competitions of the year. Though the Kerala lad is yet to break that magic number in his career, the World Championships could prove to be a valuable experience for him.
The Tokyo Olympian hurdler, MP Jabir after struggling for a majority of the season ran a sub-50 second race in men's 400m hurdles at the Inter States Athletics last month.
Tajinderpal Singh Toor
Tajinderpal was one of the first Indian athletes to qualify for the World Championships, when he broke the qualifying standard before the Tokyo Olympics last year. This season, however, has been disappointing for the shot-putter having touched the 20m mark only once.
Sandeep Kumar has registered timings of 1:26:45 and 1:22:05 in his two competitions in the 20km Racewalk section this season. The 36-year-old, however, holds a personal best of 1:20:16 and is yet to hit his peak in 2022.
Noah Nirmal Tom
Noah Nirmal Tom has put in consistent timings over 400m and holds a season best of 45.83s compared to his personal best of 45.75s. The Tokyo Olympian will be expected to lead the Indian men's 4x400m relay team in absence of Amoj Jacob and Arokia Rajiv with a struggling Muhammed Anas Yahiya for company.
Muhammed Anas Yahiya
A veteran of 400m runs, Yahiya has struggled badly this season and has a season best of 46.27s. Yahiya's struggles this season have led to his omission from the Commonwealth Games squad, but his experience is surely something India would rely on for the World Championships.
Having travelled to Tokyo Olympics as a part of the relay team, Naganthan Pandi will be expected to step up in absence of Jacob and Rajiv in the World Championships. He holds a personal and season best of 46.05s.
Muhammed Ajmal Variyatodhi
Muhammed Ajmal Variyatodhi has registered some consistent timings this season with a best of 46.04s to cover 400m.
The 23-year-old Rajesh Ramesh holds a personal and season best of 46.09s.
From just before the Tokyo Olympics last year, Dhanalakshmi Sekhar has been clocking consistent timings over 100m and 200m. The 24-year-old became only the third Indian to run 200m in sub-23 second when she clocked 22.89s for a personal best a couple of weeks ago. Her participation at the World Championships, however, hangs in a balance due to visa issues.
Annu Rani has been leading women's javelin in the country singlehandedly for a long time now. She registered a new national record of 63.82m at the India Open Javelin Throw in May earlier this year.
The women's 3000m steeplechaser, Parul Chaudhary has been in good form this season. The 27-year-old clocked her best of 9:38.29 at the Indian Grand Prix in Thiruvananthapuram in March this year. She also broke the 3000m national record a week ago.
20km racewalker Priyanka Goswami has registered a season best of 1:38:10 in her only completed event in this event this year. Her personal best, however, stands at 1:37:00.15 and was clocked way back in 2019.