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Avinash Sable & Men’s relay team can win medals apart from Neeraj Chopra at Paris 2024, hints AFI chief

Avinash Sable & Men’s relay team can win medals apart from Neeraj Chopra at Paris 2024, hints AFI chief

Sumariwalla revealed the AFI's target of qualifying at least 35 track and field athletes for the Paris Olympics

The President of the Athletic Federation of India (AFI), Adille Sumariwalla, expressed confidence in India’s potential for a stronger performance at the Paris Olympics compared to their achievements in Tokyo three years ago. Speaking during a media interaction at the Federation Cup in Bhubaneswar, Sumariwalla asserted optimism for an improved medal tally in Paris, highlighting the possibility of success in various events such as the men’s 4x400m relay, men’s long jump, and men’s 3000m steeplechase.

“We can no doubt perform better in the Paris Olympics than in Tokyo. We can win more medals in Paris,” said Sumariwalla during an interaction with the media on the sidelines of the Federation Cup in Bhubaneswar.

“I had never in the past given any prediction of any event in which we could win a medal. But, if our athletes performed their best (betters their personal best) in many events, we can win medals or finish in the top four,” he said, mentioning men’s 4x400m relay, men’s long jump and men’s 3000m steeplechase, among others.

More medals than Tokyo at Paris Olympics 2024

Reflecting on India’s performance in Tokyo, where they secured seven medals, including a historic gold in athletics by Neeraj Chopra, Sumariwalla emphasized the importance of athletes surpassing their personal bests to enhance medal prospects in Paris. He underscored Neeraj’s significance as India’s first track and field Olympic gold medalist and acknowledged the nation’s aspirations for further success in the sport.

Sumariwalla outlined the AFI’s target of qualifying at least 35 track and field athletes for the Paris Olympics, with 20 already securing qualification and 11 athletes positioned within qualification slots according to World Athletics rankings. He expressed hope for additional qualifiers before the qualification window closed on June 30, emphasizing the federation’s commitment to supporting athletes in their pursuit of Olympic berths.

“We are expecting to have at least 35 track and field athletes in the Paris Olympics. Already, 20 have qualified including the two relays and 11 athletes are within qualification slots according to World Athletics rankings. We are hoping that they (the 11) remained there and some more also qualify when the qualification window closes (on June 30),” stated Sumariwalla.

Check out more latest news on the Paris Olympics 2024

Neeraj Chopra exempted from mandatory National Inter-State Athletics Championships

Regarding participation in the National Inter-State Athletics Championships, Sumariwalla underscored its mandatory nature for Indian athletes aiming for selection in the Paris Olympics, with exceptions made for athletes like Neeraj Chopra due to scheduling conflicts. Neeraj’s exemption was attributed to his participation in the Paris Diamond League, a crucial event leading up to the Olympics, where he sought to assert his dominance in the men’s javelin.

Sumariwalla acknowledged the significance of Neeraj’s participation in international competitions like the Paris Diamond League for his preparation and performance at the Olympics. He highlighted the clash between the National Inter-State Athletics Championships and the Paris Diamond League, recognizing the importance of accommodating athletes’ scheduling constraints while ensuring their readiness for international competitions.

Neeraj Chopra’s absence from domestic competitions since the Federation Cup in March 2021 was noted, with anticipation building for his upcoming appearance in the men’s javelin final. Sumariwalla encouraged support for Neeraj and other athletes competing in the National Inter-State Athletics Championships, emphasizing the collective effort to propel Indian athletics to greater heights on the global stage.

“Every athlete will have to take part in the National Inter-State. But National Inter-State is clashing with the Paris Diamond League (which Chopra is taking part), which is very important for Neeraj considering that the Olympics will be held there,” Sumariwalla concluded.

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