AFI media, Amritsar

The Athletics Federation of India has chalked out a comprehensive 2024 Paris Olympic Games plan to have a more successful innings than the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games held in 2021 in Japan. While AFI is aiming for more than one medal at the July 26 to August 11 Paris Olympic Games scheduled to be held next year in France, it has also set strict qualification criteria.

At the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games held in 2021 in Japan, India’s star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra became the first Indian to win track and field gold.

“We have had a discussion with the respective coaches this week to chalk out an international exposure tour for the core group of athletes in the buildup to the Paris Olympic Games,” Adille Sumariwalla, president, AFI said here on Saturday.

The members of the 4x400m men and women’s relay squad will go to Bahamas for a four weeks exposure tour ahead of the World Athletics Relays scheduled to be held on May 4-5 in Nassau. “Competition in the Bahamas will be one big opportunity for the Indian relay squad to qualify for the Paris Olympic Games,” Sumariwalla said on the sidelines of the AFI Annual General Meeting.

The top 14 teams at the World Athletics Relays meet in May will get an automatic berth for the Olympic Games, the AFI president added.

After a fifth-place finish with a sub-three minutes at the 2023 Budapest World Athletics Championships held in Hungary in August, the national 4x400m men’s relay team continued their good run by winning gold at the 19th Hangzhou Asian Games in China. “We are expecting good results from the men’s 4x400m relay team in the Bahamas and at the Paris Olympic Games,” Sumariwalla added.

However, it could be challenging for the women’s 4x400m and mixed 4x400m relay teams to win an automatic qualification berth for the Olympics in Bahamas. “The national camp has started and athletes have nearly five months to prepare and deliver the goods at the right time,” Sumariwalla said.

While the members of the relay team will go to Bahamas for an exposure tour, the race walker has plans to go to Turkey to achieve Paris Olympic qualification at the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships, scheduled to be held in Antalya on April 21-22.

“Coaches in coordination with the athletes have prepared plans to peak at the right time,” the AFI president said.

The AFI has also set strict selection criteria for the Pais Olympic Games hopefuls.

Apart from achieving the Paris Olympic Games qualification standard set by the World Athletics during the qualification period, the athletes will have to perform at par with a 16th place finish in their respective events achieved at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games held in 2021, during the final selection trials in June next, Sumariwalla added.

The 63rd National Inter State Senior Athletics Championships scheduled to be held next year in Panchkula, Haryana from June 27 to 30 will be the last platform to achieve the qualification for the Olympic Games, the AFI president said. “We have set strict qualification criteria to ensure athletes repeat their home performance at the Paris Olympic Games,” Sumariwalla added.