<
>

AFI offers second trial to Jeswin, Aishwarya and Arokia for spot in World Championships squad

File photo of Jeswin Aldrin Shyam Vasudevan

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has decided to give long-jumper Jeswin Aldrin, 400m runner Aishwarya Mishra and 400m relay runner Arokia Rajiv another shot at earning a spot in India's squad for the World Athletics Championships.

The trio had a trial in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday and none of them managed to meet the cut-off set by the AFI, which was far less than the automatic qualification standards set by World Athletics. They have now been awarded the chance at a second trial on July 8, at the NIS in Patiala where the Junior World Championships trial will take place on the same day.

"They have been given another opportunity and will have another trial on Friday. The qualification criteria will remain the same," said AFI president Adille Sumariwalla. "We're here to support our athletes. If they make the cut, they will surely be added to the Indian team for the Championships," he added.

Jeswin managed a best of 7.99m [7.76m, 7.70m, 7.85m, 7.91m, 7.99m, 7.92m] and was well short of AFI's "close to 8.10m" selection criteria. The 20-year-old had a monstrous 8.37m wind-aided jump at the Federation Cup in April and also had a personal best legal jump of 8.26m, but his form has tapered since. His best jump since then was the 7.99m on Monday.

Aishwarya clocked 53.15s, while the cut-off was "close to 52 seconds." She had qualified for the World Championships by virtue of breaching World Athletics' qualifying standard [51.35s] with a blistering 51.18s run at the Federation Cup in April. However, she was untraceable over the next two months and it raised suspicions of doping. Her timing on Monday was the slowest she has run this year.

Arokia, who had been called up as a replacement to the injured Amoj Jacob in the 4*400m relay team, ran the lap in 47.89s - far from his season's best of 46.01s which he clocked in June. He will be included in the team subject to another "fitness test" next week.

World Athletics had set a deadline of July 4 for countries to submit their final selections. It is likely that the AFI has added the three athletes to the final list, but they may be withdrawn if their performances don't meet the mark on Friday. With the World Championships to begin in Eugene on July 15, the athletes, if chosen, "will leave immediately from Delhi for the States," said Sumariwalla.