India’s star 400 meters runner Amoj Jacob will be frustrated by his absence at the 81st Delhi State Athletics Championships starting on Friday at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. The state competition will also be the main track and field event in New Delhi since April lockdown due to escalating Covid-19 cases in the Capital.
The four-day state competition will act as a qualifying competition for the upcoming 60th National Open Athletics Championships scheduled to be held on September 15 in Warangal, Telangana, said Dinesh Rawat, a senior athletics coach.
Amoj anchored national men’s 4x400m relay team to an Asian record at the last month’s Tokyo Olympic Games. The Indian team clocked 3:00.25 seconds, continental as well as national record. Despite the Asian record, the national team failed to book a berth in the final, finishing fourth in the heats and ninth overall. The top eight teams advance to the final.
“Amoj will not compete in the Open National Athletics Championships. He will also skip the Delhi competition,” said Dinesh.
The 60th National Open Athletics Championships in Warangal is the last domestic track and field event.
"Several athletes who competed at the Tokyo Olympic Games might skip the Warangal event. They have been attending Olympic preparatory camp since March 2020 and haven’t taken a break," said a senior athlete.
Despite Amoj skipping the state competition, the 400m event is expected to be the main attraction. Payal Vohra, a member of the national women’s 4x400m relay team that competed at the Nairobi’s World U20 Athletics Championships, will be seen in action during the state competition
“Payal will compete in the women’s U-20 400m event in the state meet,” added Dinesh.
The sports activities have resumed in New Delhi after April lockdown due to Covid-19 crisis. The state track and field meet is the first big event that has attracted over 1000 athletes from various age groups, including under-14 boys and girls.
Since Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the main hub of athletics, was also closed down due to the pandemic in April, sports activities were disrupted.
“Sports activities are back to normal in Delhi as Covid-19 cases are on decline. But we will follow the Covid-19 protocols issued by the government of social distancing and wearing masks during the competition,” said athletics coach familiar with the development.