Bangkok: Missing some of their major stars, India will nevertheless aim to create a ripple in the first leg of the 2007 Asian Grand Prix athletics circuit starting at the National Stadium on 19June.
Several of India’s top athletes have opted out of the one-day event while long jumper Anju Bobby George, who was aiming to start her season in the Thai capital, will not be seen in action as her event is off the schedule.
Other star Indian names missing include quarter-milers Pinki Paramanik and Satti Geetha, hurdler Patlavanath Shankar and high jumper Benedict Starli.
In their absence, the Indian challenge is likely to be led by discus thrower Vikas Gowda, Sinimol Paulose and Chatholi Hamza in the 1500m and high jumper Harishankar Roy.
Gowda has been in good form recently and surpassed his own national record when he threw the disc to a distance of 64.96m at a competition in the United States last month.
The Karnataka athlete, who finished sixth at both the Commonwealth Games as well as Asian Games last year, could be considered the favourite in the event but Iran’s Abbas Samimi, the silver medallist at the 2002 Busan Asian Games, who stood fourth in Doha last year, could be a strong challenger.
The Iranian has a personal best of 64.98m but his season’s best of 63.82m is short of Gowda’s effort in California last month. China’s Wu Tao, the 2002 Asian Games champion, will be another one to look out for.
Doha Asiad bronze medallist Sinimol Paulose, with a season’s best of 4:11.66 seconds, will have to fight it out with China’s Huang Jing (personal best of 4:10.13) and Kazakhstan’s Svetlana Lukasheva (4:13.83) in the 1,500m.