The under-16 group has attracted the maximum number of entries, while women and under-20 girls 400-metre events have received a lukewarm response to the two-day National Open 400-meter Championships starting in New Delhi on Monday.
According to the entry list, only four athletes will compete in the women’s 400m race while equal numbers will contest in the U20 girls’ group during the two-day National Open 400-meter Championships.
A total of 91 athletes are expected to compete in the U16 age group, including 45 athletes in the U16 boys' section.
Since there are four entries in women’s and U20 categories, there will be a direct final race. Delhi’s Pooja will be the main attraction during the women’s 400m event. The other three athletes in the senior group are from Kerala, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has been focusing on 400m events to build up its national 4x400m relay squad. The AFI started a separate national 400m competition to give athletes more opportunities to showcase their talent in the quarter mile.
Javelin and race walking are the other two events that the AFI emphasizes on as both events have the potential to improve India's medal tally at the continental level. The AFI has also started a separate national competition in javelin to build a strong base.
There are 18 entries in the U18 girls’ group while 45 athletes will compete in the U16 girls’ category. Maharashtra has nine athletes, the highest number in the U16 girls' 400m event, followed by eight from Delhi.
The U16 boys have also attracted the maximum number of 46 entries. Maharashtra tops the chart with 11 athletes, Delhi will field six while three will represent Haryana.
There is no entry standard in the U16 age group while the AFI has set a minimum entry standard in senior, U-20 and U18 age groups.
29 athletes will contest for a podium finish in the U18 boys’ category.
The men's group will see 25 athletes competing for medals. Of the 25 entries, eight athletes are from Haryana, while Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have two each.
In the U20 boys’ group 20 athletes have registered for the competition.