The last major competition of India's senior athletics calendar for 2021 ended in Warangal on Sunday with the conclusion of the National Open Athletics Championships. While none of the Indians who qualified for the Tokyo Olympics took part, there was no shortage of impressive performances at the competition, with many athletes marking themselves out as ones to watch out for over the next few years.
Harmilan Bains had been edging closer to the national record in the 1500m over the last few months, missing the mark by just a few seconds at the Indian Grand Prix in Patiala in June this year. She ended the year with the record in her name though, with a time of 4:05.39 at Warangal. In doing so, she erased the 19-year old mark of 4:06.03, set by Sunita Rani at the 2002 Asian Games. While Bains has to go under the 4 minute mark to have a chance at the world level, she is capable of doing so. Over the last couple of years, the 23-year-old has shaved nearly 17 seconds (she had a best of 4:22.10 in 2019) off her personal best. She has also been hamstrung by the fact that she has no real competition in India, meaning she is setting the pace in all her races over the past couple of years.
23-year-old Amlan Borgohain won a silver in the men's 100m race and a gold in the men's 200m and is likely to be a major contender in the sprint events over the next few years. The runner from Assam clocked a personal best 10.34 in the men's 100m and an impressive 20.75 seconds in the men's 200m. That time is the second fastest-ever on Indian soil and the fifth-fastest overall in Indian history. Not only does Borgohain have age on his side, he's also steadily improved his timing over the last few years. Back in 2018, he was running the 200m in 22.67, before improving to 21.89 in 2019 and then competing in his first race over the distance in 20 months, he further improved it to 21.00 in the heats in Warangal before progressing to 20.75 in the final. The next target for Borgohain will be to get close to the national record of 20.63 held by Muhammed Anas.
Men's triple jump
Much has been expected of 20-year-old Praveen Chithravel ever since he set a new junior record of 16.51m to beat Asian Games champion Arpinder Singh at the Federation Cup in Patiala in 2019. However, Chithravel's form has been scratchy since then. Over the last couple of years, Chitravel had failed to improve on that breakout leap. Chithravel justified his potential in Warangal with a leap of 16.88m to claim gold in the triple jump. That jump catapults him to third in the Indian all time list, just behind Renjith Maheswary and Arpinder. With nearly a year to go before the high-profile competitions of 2022, Chithravel should next be expecting to crack the 17m barrier.
Men's javelin throw
Twenty year-old Sahil Silwal is being touted as among the next line of talent on the Indian javelin throwing scene. He did his reputation no harm with a throw of 77.79m in Warangal. Although the throw was not the best of his career - he made a throw of 80.65m at the Federation Cup earlier this year, the effort in Warangal showed he is capable of consistently throwing around the 80m mark. Still early in his development, Silwal should be expecting to throw over the 80m mark consistently next season, giving India' a third thrower capable of crossing that mark.
Women's long jump
Just a year ago, 24-year-old B Aishwarya suffered a serious injury that required her to undergo surgery on her left knee. After the Open Championships in Warangal, its clear she's in the best shape of her career. While she won gold in both the long jump and triple jump, it is her performance in the long jump that impressed most. Her effort of 6.52m was a massive personal best - improving on her her previous best by 27cm, but it also was the second best jump by an Indian jumper in nearly four years. While junior athlete Shaili Singh (PB 6.59m) is still the biggest prospect in the women's long jump, it's likely that she will be pushed by Aishwarya over the next few years. The Railways athlete is looking to go even better than her current best and says she'll be aiming for the 6.70m mark at next year's Asian Games.