Fresh off an “eye-opening” stint in Europe, quarter-miler Priya Mohan has landed in Chennai for the Inter-State Meet, which starts on Thursday, with a target of running below 52 seconds and taking a shot at the World Championship berth after already sealing the U20 Worlds spot.

The Bengaluru-based athlete, who is back from a stint in France and Switzerland, will be pushed by the likes of Aishwarya Mishra, the India leader right now with 51.18s, and 17-year-old Rupal who pipped her in the Jr Federation Cup less than a week back. The 400m list also includes Pahal Kiran, who ran below 52 last month, apart from seasoned campaigners like MR Poovamma.

Priya has beaten multiple times Asian Games medallist MR Poovamma at least twice on the domestic circuit but the 32-year-old runner can’t be written off easily.

The 19-year-old is one of the most exciting talents on the circuit at the moment with consistent performances in the last couple of seasons. Despite finishing with a silver (52.49s), just.01 s behind the winner, at the recently concluded U 20 Jr Fed Cup, it would be considered a slump in form as per targets set by her for this season.

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The Junior Fed Cup at Naidad, Gujarat last week, was her first competition after a short but “disastrous” yet eye-opening training stint in Europe. Priya could not improve on her personal best of 52.37s set in Kozhikode earlier this year in her two attempts in Europe.

“Food was a huge problem. I have six meal per day plan where I eat chicken and eggs mainly but they had only red meat and Pork in Paris. I don’t eat that. There were limited options in the vegetarian section as well – mainly potatoes and no broccoli,” says the athlete.

Lack of nutrition reflected in her results as she cloaked 53.18s at a meet in Montgeron in the suburbs of Paris and a week later managed 52.93s in Geneve, Switzerland.

“It was a disastrous outing but it was an eyeopener at the same time. We might be in Paris again in a couple of years for the Olympics so we will be better prepared next time. It is really important to choose the right training centre,” says Priya’s coach Arjun.

The disappointing Europe trip brushed aside, Priya has reached Chennai for the Inter-State meet- the last major competition on Indian soil before the Commonwealth and World Championships- that begins on Thursday. Having sealed the U 20 Worlds ticket already, Priya is eyeing a berth for the senior Worlds to be held in Oregon next month.

Priya mohan Priya Mohan has reached Chennai for the Inter-State meet. (File)

With CWG qualifying standard set at 50.13s, stiffer than Worlds mark of 51.35s, dreaming of a ticket to Birmingham would be unrealistic feels coach Arjun.

“She lost in the Fed Cup last week because she couldn’t pace her race well. That has been one of her weak points but that can be ironed out only with more exposure and competition,” explained Arjun.

Another jump treat

After a superb showdown between long jumpers Sreeshankar Murli and Jeswin Aldrin at the Fed Cup a few months back the duo meets again in Chennai. Both Sreeshankar and Aldrin, returning from an overseas training stint, have booked slots for achieved the qualification mark for Worlds and CWG. It is likely they will tread cautiously to avoid any injury ahead of the big competitions.

The latest entrant in the 8m club, Anees has an opportunity to catch up. The men’s triple jump also promises a good show with the Kerala trio of Karthik Unnikrishnan, Eldhose Paul and Aboobacker featuring in the list. At the Indian Grand Prix Aboobacker produced a massive jump of 17.19m – the second-best by an Indian- to earn a berth for the World Championships.

Avinash Sable, who has been on a record-breaking spree has his name entered in the 500m meters and steeplechase event but most likely won’t be participating. 100m hurdles sensation Jyothi Yarraji, who recently rewrote the NR thrice in less than a month, will be worth keeping an eye on.

For shot putter Tajinder Toor, who has been recovering from an injury, anything less than a 21m throw will be a disappointment. Toor has already achieved the World mark last year but needs a big throw to boost his confidence.

Discus thrower Seema Punia, even at the age of 38, is relentless in her pursuit to add another international, if not many, to her tally. Punia is still hungry to qualify for the CWG where she has bagged three silvers and a bronze medal. Her first CWG medal was in Melbourne 16 years ago.

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