Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

The much-awaited National Federation Senior Athletics Competition, a Paris Olympic Games qualification event, will kick start at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday.

The mega event has attracted more than 800 athletes, including 180 female athletes. The main attraction of the competition will be men’s javelin star, Olympic and World Champion Neeraj Chopra. It will be the first time since the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, Chopra will be seen in action on the Indian soil.

Both Chopra and Odia javelin star Kishore Jena have qualified for the Paris Olympic Games and a domestic meet in Bhubaneswar will be part of their Olympic Games preparation. Earlier a couple of days back at Doha Diamond League, a season opening competition, Chopra claimed second position behind Jacub Vadlejch (88.38m) of Czech Republic with a throw of 88.36m.

Apart from Chopra, Odia javelin star and Asian Games silver medalist Kishore Jena will also compete in the four-day long competition which will continue till May 15. An 18-member team from Odisha including star sprinter Srabani Nanda will vie for the top honours.

Country’s top quarter milers, after successfully booking relay berths in 4x400m relay event at the just concluded World Athletics Relay in Bahamas, will test themselves in an individual event in Bhubaneswar.

Chief athletics coach Radhakrishnan Nair is hopeful of a better and steady performance in Bhubaneswar after a series of warm up domestic competitions conducted in March and April. 

“Bhubaneswar will be a good platform for the athletes to further assess their performance. Athletes from Bangladesh and Maldives have also confirmed their entries for the National Federation Senior Athletics Competition,” said Nair.