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Medley relay makes debut in Junior National

By Our Sports Reporter

BHOPAL SEPT. 12. Medley relay — after having tested the event in the zonals last month — makes its full-fledged initiation when the 15th National inter-zonal Junior athletic championship opens here on Saturday.

The 1,000 metre medley race, a combination of 100m, 200m, 300m and 400m, has caught the imagination of the officials of the Amateur Athletic Federation of India (AAFI). The AAFI hopes to cultivate the event and have a team for the future Junior World championships.

The introduction of medley race for boys under-16 was part of the AAFI's process of streamlining the events for various age groups, in accordance with the guidelines of the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF).

Octathlon replaces heptathlon

Also making its inception at the National inter-zonals was Octathlon, for boys' under-18. The eight-discipline event replaces heptathlon, and includes 100m, long jump, shot put, 400m, 110Hm, high jump, javelin and 1,000m. From the 10 disciplines in decathlon, pole vault and discus have been dropped and 1,500m race reduced to 1,000m, to make the Octathlon event.

These two events were introduced in the zonals after the chief of Indian contingent, to the recently concluded Junior World championship in Canada, made a strong proposal for their introduction.

Besides the new events, the National holds little relevance in terms of the team selection for the major events. There is hardly any championship for the juniors in coming two months, rendering the Inter-zonal a mere selection trial for the National camps.

Nevertheless, an exciting fare should be on the cards as the North Zone attempts to defend its overall title in Junior men's section, third year in a row. Though South Zone has a stronger team, in terms of track events, North should sail ahead with its impeccable hold over the field disciplines.

Add to that, the promising Uttar Pradesh sprinter, Vishal Singh and Haryana's middle distance runner, Renu Joon, and one has an enviable team. In the girls' section though, South may have an upper hand with athletes from Kerala providing strength in every department.

Clocking impressive timings in the North Zone meet in Delhi last month — 10.99 seconds for 100m and 22.06s for 200m — Saxena has established himself as the rising star of the prime races. It will take a mighty effort to down the current National record of 10.5s, set by Jaspreet three years ago. Nonetheless, even if Saxena maintains his touch, as in Delhi, he would be running for the double.

Other than Saxena, Renu has had been consistent for last two years, in her respective age categories. Participating in the under-18 section this year, Renu has maintained her hold over the 1,500m and 3,000m distances with absolute authority. Her timings, in the zonals, have been close to the National record and much better than the timings clocked in other zones.

Unfortunately, after this meet juniors have nothing much to look forward for. The AAFI has no big plans for juniors so there would hardly be any activity. The Federation Cup and National Open is slated in second part of November, as, unfortunately, the sports administrators were spending their time and energy on the controversial Afro-Asian Games.

As a venue, athletics returns to Bhopal's T.T. Nagar stadium after a gap of three years. There will be 148 gold medals at stake, in four age-groups (under-20, Under-18, Under-16, Under-14) each, for boys and girls.

The track at the Tatya Tope Stadium was ship-shape but the central field looked patchy, mainly the areas reserved for discus and javelin events. It was being done-up on the eve of the championship.

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