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Sudha, Preeja confident of defending Asian Games titles



New Delhi, Sep 5: India's middle distance women runners Sudha Singh and Preeja Sreedharan said they are confident of defending their gold medals at the 2014 Asian Games in the South Korean city of Incheon, Sep 19-Oct 4.

Sudha, reigning Asian Games and Asian champion in 3000m steeplechase, said India runners are ready for the mega event.

"We have been training continuously under Dr Nikolai Snesareva since February at our Ooty camp. All of us are ready to fight for our medals at Incheon, there is no question of being apprehensive of any competition that comes our way," said Sudha, as the first batch of the Indian athletics team comprising of seven endurance runners and their coach left for Incheon Thursday.

Preeja, who won the gold medal in the 10000m race and silver in the 5,000m in the 2010 Asian Games, said her focus for the last six months has been the Asian Games.

"For the last six months we have focussed only on performing at the 2014 Asian Games. We hope the entire country will support our endeavour," she said. 

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Snesareva said expectations are high from Indian athletes. 

"I am confident that all of them will be clocking their best performances at the Asian Games. During my previous tenure I had spent almost five years in preparation for the 2010 Asiad. This time, I didn't have that luxury but we have made the best utilisation of the camp. We received help from several quarters, including the common people who helped the national campers in Ooty," he said.

Athletics Federation of India (AFI) president Adille Sumariwalla wished the runners best of luck.

"We have high hopes from the endurance runners and I am confident they will perform their best and bring laurels to the country. I wish all the seven athletes the best for the 2014 Asian Games," he said.

The seven-member first batch of athletes will reach Incheon Friday morning and they will be undergoing training and acclimatisation. They will be shifting to the Games Village Sep 13. 

The endurance runners team: Sudha Singh (3000m steeplechase), Preeja Sreedharan (5000m & 10,000m), OP Jaisha (1500m & 5000m), Lalita Babbar (3000m steeplechase), 800 metres runner Sushma Devi, Suresh Kumar (10000m) and Rahul Kumar Pal (10000m). Coach: Nikolai Snesareva; Masseur: Anzhelika Snesareva. 

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