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Saturday, July 02, 2022

AFI to hold trial to pick two women runners for 4x400m mixed relay team

The national athletics body forced to organise a trial after women’s 4x400m relay team failed to qualify for Olympics

Written by SS Manoj |
Updated: July 2, 2021 2:44:08 pm
During the 4x400m relay final in the nationals, both Jisna Mathew and Vismaya VK - who were both part of the final at Doha World Athletics Championships in 2019 - looked woefully out of form. (File Photo/AP)

The Bahamas women’s team has dashed Indian hopes in the chase to book the flights to Tokyo Games starting from July 23.

The Indian women’s 4x400m relay team was at 16th position in the World Athletics’ Road to Tokyo ranking list. On June 28 in the Blue Marlin athletics meet at Bahamas National stadium, the Bahaman women’s team clocked 3 minutes 39.43 seconds in 4x400m relay, surging ahead of India.

Indian girls could not improve the time of 3:39.42s they set at Khalifa International Stadium, Doha on October 5, 2019, during the World Championships or during the national meet in Patiala on June 29, the day Olympic qualification closed.

The Indians had plans to train in Europe before the Olympics but the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic crushed this plan. However, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) managed to organise three meets: Federation Cup (in March), Indian Grand Prix-4 and the National Inter-State Senior Championships (in June end).

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The national meet was accorded ‘B’ category event by the World Athletics to help athletes seeking Olympic qualification on the basis of their rankings. A handful of Sri Lankans and Maldives athletes also competed in the five-day meet.

The 4x400m men’s team utilised this opportunity, discus thrower Seema Punia also seized the chance, but the 4x400m women’s relay team’s attempts were in vain.

During the 4x400m relay final on Tuesday, both Jisna Mathew and Vismaya VK looked woefully out of form. Priya Mohan of Karnataka, who emerged as the champion in the individual 400m event, has thrown her hat in the ring.

To compete in the 4x400m mixed relay at the Olympics, for which India has already qualified, the AFI is now forced to hold a trial in the next couple of days before finalising the team on or before July 5. Two women runners are needed to compete in the mixed relay.

“We can only take two female runners to compete in the mixed relay. Since our 4x400m women’s relay team could not qualify for the Olympics we are now forced to conduct a trial to pick the two. We are running short of time so it will be held here (Patiala) in the next couple of days,” a source in the federation told indianexpress.com on Thursday.

This will be for the time since the 1996 Atlanta Games that an Indian women’s 4x400m relay team has failed to qualify for the Olympics.

The Indian 4x400m mixed relay team qualified for Tokyo Olympics when they reached the final at Doha World Athletics Championships in 2019. The then team – Muhammed Anas, Vismaya, Nirmal Noah and Jisna – finished third in their heats, clocking 3:16.14s on September 29. All finalists in relay events in the World meets get an automatic berth for the Olympics.

Jabir to fly with Annu, Dutee

MP Jabir, the 400m hurdles national champion, made the cut thanks to his WA’s Road to Tokyo rankings. So did Annu Rani in the women’s javelin throw event and sprinter Dutee Chand in both 100m and 200m.

“I’m more than glad. Competing in the Olympic Games is an athlete’s dream. I’m so happy and thankful to many including my coaches. Now I’m gearing up for it,” Jabir told indianexpress.com over the phone from Patiala.

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