India is to the sport of athletics, what South Africa is to cricket, Portugal is to soccer, and Spain is to field hockey. Despite having some really gritty athletes, who have the potential to make it big on the world stage, they've failed to create a significant impression in major sporting events, be it the World Championships or the Summer Olympics, the highest performance being a solitary bronze from legendary long jumper Anju Bobby George at Paris World Championships in 2003, or the legendary misses of sprinter Milkha Singh and hurdler P.T. Usha at Rome Olympics 1964 and Los Angeles Olympics 1984 respectively.
Nothing, not even legendary, world record-breaking performances from their differently abled compatriots in Paralympics and World Championships, have been able to inspire our able-bodied Indian athletes to break the jinx and claim the glory they're yearning for years.
However, after the recent series of performances, which have begun since AFI Indian Grand Prix in 2016, it looks like athletics can script a legendary comeback, provided the current champions don't fizzle out. Be it the new world junior champion Neeraj Chopra or the steeplechase sensation Lalita Babar or even the javelin star Davinder Singh Kang, the current batch of Indian athletes shows some promise, provided they overcome the legendary jinx that haunts them in major sporting events.
The first challenge for the Indian athletes is the 8th Asian Indoor Athletics Championships, which shall be held from 1st to 3rd of February, 2018 at Tehran, Iran. On a national level, the athletes shall receive a nice warm-up for the upcoming Commonwealth Games in the form of the Federation Cup National Championships, to be held from 5th to 8th of March at Patiala.
For the racewalkers, who are touted to shine for India at Tokyo Olympics, their first challenge is the Asian Racewalking Championships, to be held from 18th of March at Nomi City, Japan. Thence they shall proceed to Gold Coast for the upcoming Commonwealth Games, which shall be held in Gold Coast City, Australia from 4th to 15th of April.
The next challenge for the Indian team, will be the Asian Grand Prix, whose dates are yet to be decided. They will then proceed to the G. Kosanov Memorial Championships, which shall be held at Kazakhstan, from 28th to 29th of June, 2018.
For the young colts, the next major challenge shall be the World Junior Championships, which shall be held at Tampere, in Finland, from 10th to 15th of July. For the likes of hammer thrower Damneet Singh, who had shocked one and all with a brilliant silver at the World U18 Athletics Championships last year, this is nothing less than a golden opportunity for a brilliant warmup, before the entire Indian team shall proceed for the Asian challenge, when they meet at the 18th Asian Games, to be held in Jakarta from 18th of August to 2nd of September.
For the young colts, however, the challenge is still on, as they will have a final showdown at the 3rd Youth Olympics, to be held at Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 6th to 18th of October 2018.
Though it's not an easy road ahead, courtesy the current tussle between Athletics Federation of India and Sports Authority of India for administrative control of the athletes training, but the current batch is raring to go for some hardcore action, which is promised in the upcoming year, i.e. 2018, when Indian athletes shall have their tryst with glory.
For people like Neeraj Chopra and Lalita Babar, who have the potential to bring the first athletic medals for India from the next Olympics, to be held in Tokyo in 2020, 2018 is nothing less than a shot in their arm. The ball is now in their court.Published 28 Dec 2017, 01:00 IST