The 22nd edition of the Asian Athletics Championships is all set for a grand opening on Thursday, with the event taking place in the heart of Bhubhaneshwar, Odisha.
The Kalinga Stadium will bear witness to over 800 athletes from over 45 countries. 95 of those athletes will be Indian, with the hosts aiming to make a strong statement at the Championships by winning several medals in the track and field events.
This will be the biggest ever edition of the Championships ever held, with the first one being held back in 1977 and India being a staple in the Championships since its inception. India had earlier organised the Championships in 1989 at New Delhi and at Pune in 2013.
42 sporting events will light up the Odisha capital featuring the very best of Asian athletes including 21 men and 21 women competitions. These Championships will act as a qualifying event for the IAAF World Championships to be held in London with the winners here gaining automatic qualification for that particular event.
The likes of Vikas Gowda and Sudha Singh will participate in this event, making India’s contingent a strong one. Indian National Coach Radhakrishnan Iyer positively spoke of the nation’s chances at the event saying that they would overhaul their previous tally of 17 overall medals in the event.
Vikas Gowda, in particular, has won back to back gold medals at these championships and his aim would be to make history by capturing gold again in Bhubhaneshwar and hence become the first Asian athlete to grab a hat-trick of golds at the prestigious event. He will however, face stiff competition from the world’s best discus-throw athlet
India have a chance to gear up for the London World Championships in the best way possible by grabbing a large tally of medals in their home conditions and peak at the right time. Other athletes to look out for are Neeraj Chopra (javelin throw), Tejinder Pal Toor and Manpreet Kaur (shot put) and MR Poovamma (relay) who will all aim to achieve glory in Bhubhaneshwar.
With India making a big splash on the International stage, the Asian Championships in home conditions could be the catalyst towards bigger and better things for our talented athletes en route to London and hopefully Olympic gold in the near future.