500 athletes u-18, u-20 to participate in selection trials

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Pune, May 10 (UNI) As many as 500 athletes, including high profile, will participate in the two-day Maharashtra state selection trials for the under-18 and under-20 boys and girls, which gets underway at the newly-laid synthetic track of the Baburao Sanas complex here from tomorrow.

Among them will be seasoned international athlete Shriya Vidwans, who had represented the country in the World Youth Athletic championship at Ostrava in Czech Republic, Asian cross-country gold and silver medalists the Raut siblings -- Monica and Rohini, team gold medalist Swati Gadhve and SAF gold medalist Dhiraj Mishra.

The trials assume importance as it will serve as the barometer for the hosts Maharashtra athletes, to cement their place in the ensuing 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG).

The meet also will be the basis to select the Maharashtra squad for the Youth (under-18) National Athletic championship, so also for the under-20 Junior Federation Athletic championship, to be held from May 22 to 24 at the same venue. The Indian under-20 squad, however, will be finalized on the basis of their performance at the Pune meet. The selected candidates will take part in the Junior Asian Athletic championship, to be held in Jakarta, from June 6.

Maharashtra Amateur Athletic Association (MAAA) secretary-general Pralhad Sawant, who is also the Joint Secretary of the Athletic Federation of India (AFI), today said there would be razor sharp competition for supremacy among the under-18 ace athletes, namely, Shriya Vidwans of Thane, Sayali Dravid, Rucha Patil. Bhagyashri Shirke of Pune in the sprint events. Likewise, in the long distance, a tough contest will be witnessed among the proven women athletes like the Raut siblings (Monica and Rohini) of Nagpur, Swati Gadhve of Pune,Ahmednagar's national champion Pooja Warade and Ratnagiri's Asmita Ghanekar.

Another tough fight is expected in the girls under-18 triple jump event between Pankaja Kolhe (Pune) and Shraddha Ghule (Thane).

The long distance events -- 5,000 and 10,000 -- for girls under-20 will witness stiff contest for supremacy among Neelam Kadam of Raigad, Manjula Patil and Manisha Salunke of Sangli, he said.

In the boys under-18 section, there will be stiff competition in the sprint events among Aniruddha Gujar of Satara, Tejas Salian (Thane), Kuldip Bonge (Pune), Sawant said.

The triple jump event will be a one horse race for the SAF games champion Dhiraj Mishra of Thane, he pointed out.

In the boys under-20 section for the 5,000 and 10,000 races will have a tough competition among national champion Bhau Lamber of Sindhudurg, Anil Pawar and Shyamkant Nigot of Pune.

In the sprint event of 100 and 200, international Deepak Basarkar of Pune will be the firm favourite.

However, ace athtlete Krishnakumar Rane, who is nursing an injury,will not take part in the trials and will be seen directly in the Junior Nationals championship, Sawant said.

Total 85 events have been lined up for the two-day selection trials.

MAAA vice-president Advocate Abhay Chhajed will formally inaugurate the meet tomorrow morning, Sawant added.

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