Many varsities National champions to skip Khelo India University Games

    The athletics competition of the fourth Khelo India University Games begins in Guwahati on Sunday, but many National varsities champions have decided to give the Games a miss.

    Madras University’s quartermiler S.K. Kaven, sprint hurdler R. Manav and 400m hurdler Ashwin Krishna — all gold medallists at last month’s National inter-university championships in Chennai — will not be in action at the Khelo India event.

    “The university had informed the colleges (about the Khelo India University Games) but we did not get information from them. We don’t know whether their college refused to send them or the athletes refused to go,” Gopalakrishnan, the manager of the Madras University team, told The Hindu on Saturday evening.

    Kaven had clocked a personal best 47.09s while winning the varsities Nationals 400m gold in early January.

    Calicut University triple jumper V.S. Sebastian, who was adjudged as the best athlete at the men’s varsities Nationals after producing a personal best 16.19m, has also decided to skip the Khelo India Games.

    “I want to focus on the Athletics Federation of India meets this season, starting with the Federation Cup (in May),” said the 20-year-old, who is coached by T.P. Ouseph, who had guided World Championships long jump bronze medallist Anju Bobby George earlier.

    “My elder sister Meera Shibu (the triple jump champion at the women’s varsities Nationals in Bhubaneswar in December) has also decided to skip the Khelo India event. She has got an ankle pain too.

    “She had won gold at the Khelo India University Games earlier, but there’s not much benefit in competing in the meet, you don’t get grace marks or any cash awards there. She is also focusing on AFI meets this year,” said Sebastian from his training base near Irinjalakuda in Thrissur.

    The top eight finishers at the varsities National meets automatically qualify for the Khelo India University Games but since the AFI does not recognise performances of the inter-university Nationals, the Khelo India Games offer a good chance for athletes to impress the national federation and get into national camps too.

    Over 400 athletes will be in action in the three-day event.

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