Thiruvananthapuram | Hosts Kerala will hit the track and field arena at the University Stadium from today with 90 athletes, 44 women and 46 men, knowing fully well that only a sterling performance can propel Kerala into the top three of the Games medal table.
The state had bagged 27 medals from athletics in the last edition of the Games held in Ranchi, including nine gold, ten silver and eight bronze. This time the target is 40, according to Kerala’s Chef-de-mission and former international swimmer Wilson Cherian.
Olympian Preeja Sreedharan, Kerala contingent’s flag-bearer, is leading the state’s array of track and field stars. Preeja, who won the Asian Games gold (10,000m) and silver (5,000m) at Guangzhou 2010, holds the National record in both events, but had to be contented with a silver in 5,000m at Ranchi 2011 behind Kavita Raut of Maharashtra, who set a Games record of 15:54:26. O.P. Jaisha, who is now in the Kerala team, had won the bronze (16:31:47). Preeja finished behind Kavita (34:28:26) in the 10,000m as well, clocking 34:29:79.
Jaisha, the Asian Games bronze medallist in 5,000m at Doha 2006, had clocked a personal best of 15:18:30 at Incheon 2014. She also won the 1,500m gold medal in the 2011 National Games, finishing in 4:24:14. Chalakudy’s Prajusha M.A. will be hoping to better her silver medal winning performance in triple jump in the previous edition of the Games.
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