Bhubaneswar : After getting their season off to a glittering start at the National Junior Federation Athletics Championships last month, Reliance Foundation’s (RF) young athletes will eye a repeat on the international stage when they take part in the Asian Junior Athletics Championships in Dubai from 24th to 27th April.

A total of 6 athletes from RF – Bapi Hansda, DM Jayaram, Mahendra Santa, Sabita Toppo, Sakshi Chavan and Navpreet Singh will be in action at the competition. This will be their first international competition this year.

Speaking about the preparations, Martin Owens, Head Coach at Odisha Reliance Foundation Athletics High-Performance Centre, said, “Bapi is not competing in his main event but he’s among the favourites. Sabita, Navpreet and Bapi continue their progression through the age groups by competing in the Asian Juniors. All of them competed successfully at Asian Youths alongwith Jayram last year. The surprise package is Mahendra he has broken through this year and smashed his personal best at the Junior Fed Cup. That has given him a lot of confidence. He has had a phenomenal month. We are very pleased to see how our young athletes are progressing and to see them continue to develop. We look forward to them doing their best, because that is the most important thing for junior athletes. If they can do their best, they will make us proud.”

Bapi, who set a new Championship record at the National Junior Federation Athletics Championships and has already qualified for the World Jr. Athletics Championships, which will be held in Lima, Peru in August, said, “I’m looking forward to competing at the Asian Junior Athletics Championships against the best athletes in Asia. The level of competition is high but I have prepared well with my coach and will look to give my best shot. The competition is also important preparation for the World Junior Athletics Championships later this year.”

Bapi will be competing in as many as three events: men’s 400m, men’s 4x400m relay and mixed 4x400m relay. Toppo will take part in the women’s 100m hurdles, while Santa will be competing in the men’s 4x100m relay. Bapi has already had success at the Asian level, having been the first Indian to win a silver in the men’s 400m hurdles at the Asian Youth Athletics Championships last year.

Jayaram will be eyeing medals in the men’s 200m and 4x100m hurdles events and Navpreet Singh will take part in the men’s 4x400m team. Sakshi will be a part of the 4x100m relay team.
Jayaram has also been in top form, doing the 100m-200m double at the National Junior Federation Athletics Championships and is currently the top ranked Indian in the junior category over the sprint distances.