India’s Athletics Federation (AFI) has named a 31-strong track and field team for next month’s Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast after receiving assurances from its leading female 400 metres runners that they will train at the team camp.
The AFI had earlier announced that the athletes who had refused to train at the official venue would not be included in the Gold Coast 2018 squad, leading to doubts over the participation of toprunners MR Poovamma, Anas Mohammed and Arokiya Rajiv.
According to an AFI source, 400m coach Galnina Bukharina told the national governing body that it would not make sense to send 400m relay squads without the likes of athletes likes Poovamma, Anas and Rajiv.
Each athlete was personally approached by a member of the AFI Selection Committee, after which they agreed to train at the national camp.
Although Jauna Murmu, a member of the squad that won the Commonwealth Games 4x400m gold medal at Delhi 2010, is named in the team, she is yet to submit her passport, according to AFI officials.
A similar agreement was obtained from men’s 4x400m runner Muhammed Anas Yahiya.
India had been offered a quota of 37 in athletics but the AFI Selection Committee, which met after the Federation Cup National Championships in Patiala earlier this month, chose only 31 – 18 men and 13 women.
In the last edition of the Games at Glasgow in 2014, India had 32 track and field athletes and won a gold, silver and bronze medal.
Junior world champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra - who won the gold medal at the Nationals Championships with 85.04 metres - is set to make his Commonwealth Games debut.
Promising high jumper Tejaswin Shankar, veteran discus thrower Seema Punia, triple jumper Arpinder Singh and new 400m hurdles national record holder Dharun Ayyaswamy are also named in the team.
Punia, who will be taking part in her fourth Commonwealth Games, won a silver medal at Glasgow 2014 and Arpinder took bronze.
The lone Indian gold winner in Glasgow, discus thrower Vikas Gowda, is not taking part this time.
Four 20 kilometres race walkers - two men and two women - have already been named from the separate National Championships.
"We have chosen all those who have crossed the AFI's qualifying standards and some more who got close to the mark," chairman of the AFI Selection Committee GS Randhawa said.
"We decided that we need not fill up all the quota of 37 because we cannot send the athletes who were much below the qualifying standards.
"There is no point sending an athlete who have a remote chance of a medal."