After assessing the fitness of the 400m runners to finalise the relay squads in Patiala a few days back, the Athletics Federation of India’s think-tank has now decided on trials for 20km race-walkers KT Irfan and Bhawna Jat and long jump national record-holder M Sreeshankar.
AFI’s senior vice-president Anju Bobby George will supervise the tests, which will be video-graphed.
“AFI will conduct trials on Friday to assess the fitness levels of Irfan and Bhawna as they had qualified early. Irfan was the first Indian athlete to make the Tokyo grade in March 2019 when he finished fourth in the Asian Championships in Nomi, Japan. Bhawna qualified at the 2020 Nationals in Ranchi,” sources told TOI.
“Both athletes haven’t had any notable performances recently. They will have to clear the 10km test within the time set by AFI to confirm their selection. Otherwise, they could be at risk of missing out,” they added. “The AFI has also scheduled a trial, more of a fitness test, for Sreeshankar on July 21.”
While the trials on the two walkers were expected, though a bit late, the decision to test Sreeshankar has raised eyebrows.
“The youngster set a new national record only in March and now the AFI is planning a test before his trip to Tokyo,” sources said.
“It (the fitness test) is needless and it will only disrupt the athlete’s training schedule. It looks like the AFI has zeroed in on the youngster after he didn’t compete at the inter-state meet held in hot and humid conditions in Patiala.
“Even in the case of the race-walkers, it’s difficult to agree with the trials. If the AFI was serious, they should have conducted them (trials) a month back,” the sources added.