Preeja to light cauldron at championship

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Kochi, Sep 7 (UNI) Olympian Preeja Sreedharan will light the cauldron to signal the opening of the 48th National Open Athletics Championship at Maharaja's College Stadium here tomorrow.

More than 800 athletes representing 28 teams -- 22 States and six board teams -- from across the country will vie for honours in 44 events at the four-day event.

In the opening day, the meet will witness nine finals, which includes four in THE men's sction -- 10,000m, triple jump, shot put, and 100m; and five in women's section -- 10,000m, discus throw, pole vault, hammer throw, and 100m.

Kerala will field a 69-member team comprising 28 men and 41 women athletes with Prince Jose and Mayooka Johny heading the men's and women's section respectively.

Reigning champions Railways would be fielding a 150-member team and Olympians Renjith Maheswary and Prreja Sreedharan would be representing the champions.

Last year in the meet held at Jamshedpur, Railways won 13 gold, nine silver and nine bronze in the men's section and got 16 gold, 17 silver and 12 bronze in the women's section to be overall champions.

Long jumper Anju Bobby George would not be participating in the event as she has not given her name for the championship.

Championship Chief Coordinator and Joint Secretary of Athletics Federation of India Tony Daniel said though the heats would be held in the morning, majority of the finals would be in the evening with temporary floodlight arrangements from 1700hrs to 2030 hrs.

Dr Daniel said the overnight rains had hampered certain last-minute preparations for the championship.

The championship would be declared open by Southern Naval Command Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Vice Admiral S K Damle.

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