India’s World University Games silver medalist Inderjeet Singh is leading the Asian Rankings for the season with a superb 20.65m achieved at home during the Federation Cup at the beginning of this month.
Although he missed a podium finish during the last edition of the Asian championships at Pune, Singh went on to earn a bronze medal in the Asian Games at Incheon last year.
Inderjeet further confirmed his consistency with another superb toss of 20.42m during the national trials for Universiade at Patiala on 28 May.
In the absence of Saudi Arabia’s gold medalist Sultan Abdulmajeed Al-Hebshi, the Indian’s nearest rival in Wuhan would be Pune and Incheon silver medalist Chang Ming-Huang from Chinese-Taipei, having a PB of 20.58m.
The mainland China also fielding two throwers with personal bests over 20 metres in Wang Guangfu (20.20) and Tian Zizhong (20.05).
A medal sweep is imminent for China in the women’s section. Though the hosts are not fielding Gong Lijiao, the top woman for this event in 2015, the next three throwers Guo Tianqian (18.57), Gao Yang (18.46) and Bian Ka (17.53) are likely to wrestle it between them for the top honours.
Here again an Indian tops in the list as Vikas Gowda, with his 65.75m winning mark in Tritov Invitational at La Jolla (United States) last month, is looking formidable to defend his title from Pune.
Asian record-holder and London Olympics silver medalist Ehsan Hadadi (Iran, PB: 69.32m) started season with modest 61plus in Eugene Diamond League beaten by Gowda who threw 64.41 for 3rd place.
Also in the fray are his country-mate Mahmoud Samimi, Pune Silver medalist, and Qatar’s bronze medalist Ahmed Mohammed Dheeb.
Essa Mohd Garib Al-Zankawi, who sets a Kuwaiti national record 63.22m while winning the Arab championships at Manama last month along with Saudi Arabia’s Sultan Mubarak Al-Dawoodi (PB: 60.08m) are also the other athletes to watch in Wuhan.
Another medal sweep is likely for the hosts as defending champion Su Xinyue along with Asiad silver medalist Lu Xiaoxin and bronze medalist Tan Jian represents China in the women’s event.
There is no Indian entered at Wuhan. Seema Antil of India was the gold medalist in Incheon Asiad.
That leaves only last edition’s bronze medalist Li Tsai-Yi of Chinese Taipei and Subenrat Insaeng of Thailand, who recently set a national record 60.09m at Taipei International Open Meet will have to challenge the Chinese on their own turf.
Tajikistan’s Dilshod Nazarov, defending champion and three-times successive Asian Games gold medalist, will be the hot favourite to win again in Wuhan.
Nazarov leads the continental lists with his 79.36m throw achieved during the 54th edition of Golden Spikes IAAF World Challenge at Ostrava on May 25.
Qatar’s world junior champion Ashraf Amgad Elseify (76.37), China’s Wang Shizhu (75.20) and Iranian Kaveh Mousavi (75.26) are the ones expecting to make the contest interesting in the Chinese town.
The Chinese are favourite again on the women’s side.
Incheon Asiad champion Zhang Wenxiu (77.33m), Pune silver medalist Liu Tingting (73.06) and 2012 world junior championship finalist Luo Na (69.81) will have a free ride in Wuhan.
Hosts are preserving Zhao Qinggang, who sets an Asian Record 89.15 to win the Asian Games at Incheon last year, for the World championships.
The same was the case with silver medalist Ryohei Arai of Japan. Hence it leaves the defending champion and Incheon bronze medalist Ivan Zaytsev (Uzbekistan) to spearhead the competition at Wuhan.
Two Japanese throwers with excellent personal bests, Murakami Yukifumi (85.96) and Genki Dean (84.28) as also another two from Chinese-Taipei, Cheng Chao-Tsun (81.78) and Huang Shih-Feng (82.11) will have to fight it out for the podium here.
Two bronze medalists, Risa Miyashita of Japan (Pune) and Annu Rani of India (Incheon) will vie for a medal in the women’s group with local girls Liu Shiying (62.77m) and Yang Xinli (61.92m) looking to clash for the gold position and to gain an automatic ticket to the World championships to be held at Beijing, later this year.
With the top guns missing in action at the Asian championships, Japan’s season leader Akihiko Nakamura leading the table in decathlon with 8043 points. His nearest rivals would come from the host nation in Guo Qi (7804) and Hu Yufei (7582).
Nakamura is a silver medalist in the last edition of the championships at Pune and won a bronze at the Asian Games last year.
In heptathlon the favourite would be Uzbekistan’s Ekaterina Voronina (5912 pts). A silver medalist in Pune, Voronina elevated to gold position at the Incheon Asiad.
The hosts are fielding Incheon silver medalist Wang Qingling (5873) while Japan sends Megu Hemphill, who equals the national junior record of 5678 points last month at Wakayama.
Prominent among the other competitors are India’s former Asian junior champion Purnima Hembram (5462), China’s Li Weijian (5509) and Chinese-Taipei’s Chu Chia-Ling (5519).
Ram. Murali Krishnan for AAA
DISTANCE RUNNING PREVIEW:
Defending champion Musaab Abdelrahman Bala underwent an unprecedented ouster in Incheon with the company of Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Obaid Alsalhi and Bahraini Abraham Rotich.
At the Asian Games, Alsalhi (1:46.28), Bala (1:46.33) and Rotich (1:46.94) ran a world class race to take the top three spots but only to get disqualified later on technical ground.
Both Alsalhi and Bala are going to Wuhan to make amends. Also in the fray are the three elevated podium finishers at Incheon, Adnan Taees Akkar (Iraq), Teng Haining (China) and Jamal Al-Haryani (Qatar), besides Pune bronze medalist Bilal Manour Ali from Bahrain.
Another Saudi, Ali Saad Al-Daran, the 2007 World Youth championship silver medalist, is the leading Asian athlete this season with his 1:45.59 and figuring prominently in Wuhan entry-lists that create high expectations in this event.
Another of Qatar’s wonderful runners, Mohamad Al-Garni, the Asian Games champion and Pune silver medalist in 1500m is going to Wuhan with high ambitions.
Bahrain’s Ali and Iraqi star Akkar, the bronze medalists in Pune and Incheon respectively, will have a tough opponent in Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Obaid Al-Salhi, the Asian Leader with 3:39.87 clocking at San Diego in March.
Indian Tintu Luka is already a leading athlete in women’s 800m this season with her time of 2:01.86 that she clocked while winning the National Games at Thiruvananthapuram this February.
To make her task easy, both defending champion Wang Chunyu (China) and Asiad gold medalist Margarita Mukasheva (Kazakhstan) will not be there in Wuhan.
The home-challenge will be in the form of Asiad bronze medalist Zhao Jing (2:05.18 at Shanghai Diamond League). However two Sri Lankans, Nimali (2:04.60) and Gayanthika 2:04.91), are keen to provide the required challenge to the Indian in the half-mile race.
Emirates runner Betlhem Desalegn, who won two gold medals in Pune through 1500m and 5000m, is now preferred to run 800m in place of the longer distance (5k) and already clocked a noteworthy 2:07.20 while taking the silver in the Arab championships at Manama last month. Known to be a tough fighter, Betlhem can throw a surprise or two in Wuhan.
Defending champion in the ‘metric-mile’, Betlhem finished outside the podium in the Incheon Asiad. The Incheon winner Maryam Jamal (Bahrain) and bronze medalist O.P. Jaisha (India) are opted to skip the Wuhan meet, leaving only the silver medalist Mimi Belete to challenge Betlhem here.
The distance running superpower Japan is fielding May Iino, raking second in Asia this year with 4:17.67 to garner a medal in this championships.
Incheon victor Al-Garni (Qatar) and bronze medalist Albert Rop (Bahrain) are set to clash once again in the Asian meet. Albert, a silver medalist in this year’s Arab championships, posted an area lead 13:18.55 at Manama.
Japan’s Naohiro Domoto (13:32.72) and Indian G Lakshmanan (13:50.05) are the other medal contenders in Wuhan.
Two Bahraini runners, defending champion Alemu Bekele and Asian Games winner El Hassan El Abbassi, will be the main stars to watch in 10,000m.
Surprisingly Japan did not enter any athlete in this event. Hosts China is entering national champion Qi Zhenfei (29:31.60). Here again Lakshmanan (29:13.50) will have a chance to win a medal for India.
As in 1500m, the defending champion Betlhem (UAE) and Incheon silver medalist Mimi Belete will fight it out for the top honours in women’s 5000m race. Japan fielding two middle class runners in Mao Kiyota (15:42.80) and Risa Kikuchi (15:45.44). The second Emirates’ runner in the fray, Asian Games 10000m champion Alia Mohamed Saeed is also a notable contender as she posted 15:34.70 in indoors earlier this year at XL-Galan in Stockholm.
In 10000m, defending champion Shitaye Eshete of Bahrain will log horn with Asiad winner Alia. The UAE runner was a silver medalist behind Eshete at Pune. Japan’s Numata Michi (32:25.08) is also having podium ambitions as also Uzbekistan’s Sitora Khamidova, who was fourth at last year’s Asian Games in Incheon.
A thin field of nine athletes will be taking part in the men’s 3000m steeplechase at Wuhan.
Leading the list is Bahrain’s John Koech has clocked a superlative 8:14.75 while finishing third in the Beijing World Challenge in last week.
His teammate Evans Chematot, former World Junior bronze medalist, along with Japan’s Aoi Matsumoto will bring in the glamour to the event.
India’s Incheon bronze medalist Naveen Kumar and teammate Jaiveer Singh are also in the fray for a medal in the men’s race.
Luck eluded Ruth Jebet after she posted a world youth/junior leading mark of 9:40.84 in the last edition of the Asian championships at Pune, as she had to forfeit her gold medal due to eligibility question regarding her nationality.
Having cleared for her Bahraini citizenship, she once again underwent a sticky situation when the medal ceremony at the Asian Games in Incheon last year was abruptly stopped in midway due to an appeal lodged against her lane violation.
After a high drama Jebet received the verdict to her favour and happy to see that her time 9:31.36 accepted as a new Games Record.
The two other medalists with her on the Incheon podium, silver medalist Li Zhenzhu of China and bronze medalist Lalita Babar of India, will also be there in Wuhan to recreate another memorable race.
Ram. Murali Krishnan for AAA