Inter-State Sr Athletics Championship from tomorrow in Madurai

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Madurai, Jun 14 (UNI) More than 800 athletes from all over the country would take part in the prestigious four-day 48th Velammal National Inter-State Senior Athletics Championship, which begins at Dr MGR Stadium here tomorrow.

Addressing a press conference here, Organising Committee Chairman W I Davaram said the championship would be the final selection trials for the Indian athletics team for Olympics, to be held in Beijing in August. ''This is for the first time such an important meet has been allotted to Madurai by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) in the newly laid synthetic track.'' The meet, to be held under the auspices of the AFI, was organised jointly by the Tamil Nadu Athletics Association (TNAA) and Madurai District Athletics Association.

Top Indian athletes like Anju Bobby George (Long Jump), Krishna Punia (Women Discus Throw), Susmitha Singha Roy (Heptathlon), Renjith M (Triple Jump), Vikas Gowda (Men Discus Throw), Mandeep Kaur (400 M) and Manjit Kaur (400 M), who have qualified directly for the Olympics, would be seen in action.

Mr Dewaram said that apart from the star athletes, many upcoming athletes who were likely to qualify like Hamsa, Sinimol Paulouse, Joseph and Harwant Kaur, would also be taking part in the event.

Athletes who were undertaking training in Ukraine, the US and Europe have started arriving and all players were expected to reach Madurai before dawn tomorrow, he added.

The event would be inaugurated by Indian Olympics Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi, MP.

The meet would have a grand opening ceremony with a 45-minute colourful cultural programme, to be performed by tinsel world famous dance master Kala and her group, followed by a spectacular fireworks display.

Mr Davaram said latest sports equipment like Photo Finish, Tachometer, Electronic Display Boards Countdown Timer, Mega Video display of international and Olympic standards would be used for the first time in Tamil Nadu.

The city-based Velammal Group of Educational Institutions would be the title sponsor for the event. Doordarshan (Sports) channel would telecast live the entire event.

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