Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra headlines India's 37-member track and field squad for the Commonwealth Games (July 28 to August 10), as announced by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) on Thursday.
The big-name exclusions include high jump national record holder Tejaswin Shankar as well as long jumper Jeswin Aldrin (who won gold at the Federation Cup earlier this year). India will also not be sending any women's 400m runners (individual or relay).
Tejaswin's contentious exclusion comes on the back of his non-participation in the inter-state athletics meet recently concluded in Chennai, says Adille Sumariwalla, AFI president. "We have been in touch constantly, our rule is very very clear that everyone will have to participate at the inter-state," he said. "We have given permission to only Sable, Chopra, Seema Punia to compete abroad and be exempt from this meet. Apart from these three no one has asked for permission." He said Shankar had neither asked to be included in the team nor sought an exemption from domestic competition.
Meanwhile, Aldrin's exclusion from the long jump was due to his dipping performances, said Sumariwalla. Aldrin has registered India's longest ever jump (though not considered a national record, because of wind speed technicality), but Sumariwalla said he had not been able to match those numbers since. Dr. Lalit K Bhanot, chair of the selection committee also bemoaned the fact that he could not "even get third in the inter-state", where he finished fourth.
"We are requesting the Indian Olympic Association to increase our quota by one and to assist in securing accreditation for a couple of athletes. We have also selected a few subject to their proving their fitness and form before the Games," Mr. Sumariwalla said.
"Shot Puttter Tajinderpal Singh Toor will have to perform well in Kazakhstan while Amoj Jacob has been selected subject to his recovery and fitness level," the AFI President said.
"Similarly, Discus Throwers Navjeet Kaur Dhillon and Seema Antil Punia as well as Hammer Thrower Sarita Singh will have to perform in Kazakhstan or California. Race walker Bhawna Jat will have to prove her fitness."
Sumariwalla also said they would be focusing on developing the 400m women's programme in time to defend their Asian Cup crown, but that they did not deem it advisable to participate in the CWG. This is the team, as announced:
Jyothi Yarraji (100m hurdles)
Manpreet Kaur (shot put)
Navjeet Kaur, Seema Punia (discus, subject to meeting quota in Kazhakstan/USA)
Annu Rani, Shilpa Rani (javelin, Shilpa depends on CWG approval of accreditation)
Manju Bala Devi, Sarita Singh (hammer, subject to CWG approval, and meeting quota resp.)
Aiswarya B, Ancy Sojan (Long Jump)
Aiswarya B (Triple jump)
Bhavna Jat, Priyanka Goswamy (10km walk, Bhavna depending on health)
Dhanalakshmi, Hima Das, Dutee Chand, Srabani Nanda, Jilna MV, Simi NS (4x100m relay)
Avinash Sable (3000m SC and 5000m, the latter depending on schedule)
Nitender Rawat (marathon)
Tejinder Singh Toor (shot put, dependent on performance in Kazakhstan)
Neeraj Chopra, Manu DP, Rohit Yadav (javelin)
M. Sreeshankar, Muhammed Anees (long jump)
Abdulla Aboobacker, Praveen Chitravel, Eldhose Paul (triple jump)
Sandeep Kumar, Amit (10km walk)
Amoj Jacob, Noah Nirmal Tom, Arokia Rajiv, Muhammed Ajmal, Naganathan Pandi, Rajesh Remesh (4x400m relay)