The Indian men’s 4x400m relay team enhanced its chances of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics with a 3:01.89 effort in the heats on the opening day of the National Inter-State Athletics Championships on Friday. Muhammed Anas Yahiya, Amoj Jacob, Arokia Rajiv and Noah Nirmal Tom took the track with the singular aim of improving the team’s time from 3:02.61 in the Indian Grand Prix 4 here on Monday.
Their timing on Friday would lift them from earlier 16th on the Road to Tokyo ranking to 13th. Top sixteen teams with compete in all the relay events in the Tokyo Olympics which opens on July 23. The qualification deadline is June 29. An Indian team had clocked 3:02.59 in Turkey in 2019, but that time had left it in the 16th place in the rankings. The women’s 4x100m relay quartet of Archana Suseendran, Hima Das, S Dhanalakshmi and Dutee Chand, chasing the magical mark of 43.05 seconds to attain qualification for the Olympics, was 0.45 seconds short in the heats.
The team, which set a national record of 43.47 seconds in the Indian Grand Prix 4 on Monday, was credited with a time faster than the meet record (45.69) standing in the name of Tamil Nadu. Both the relay finals will be held on the final day on Tuesday.
Two months after recovering from COVID-19 infection, distance runner Parul Chaudhary defended her women’s 5000m race title. The first day witnessed six finals at two venues — at NIS and Punjabi University grounds — and none of the competing athletes in the individual events were Olympic hopefuls. Chaudhary, who had contracted the virus in April at the Sports Authority of India’s Bengaluru Centre, won the race, clocking 16 minutes 4.07 seconds at the NIS tracks here.
The Uttar Pradesh athlete’s timing was, however, well below the Olympic qualifying standard of 15 minutes 10 seconds. She had won gold in the last edition in 2019 with a time of 17:51.98. The event was held last year to COVID-19 pandemic. C Kanimozhi, who clocked a personal best of 13.63 in the 100m hurdles in the Federation Cup here in March, held off a challenge by Agasara Nandini to win the race. The Tamil Nadu girl improved on her own career best from 13.88 to 13.70. Sri Lanka’s WVL Sugandi had to settle for the third place behind the two Indians who have battled for the 100m hurdles prize this year.
Madhya Pradesh’s Vikram Bharatsingh Bangriya won the gruelling men’s 10000m race from Kartik Kumar (Uttar Pradesh) while Parul Chaudhary (Uttar Pradesh) dominated the women’s 5000m event, winning comfortably from Maharashtra’s Komal Chandrakant Jadgalde and Ankita Dhyani (Uttarakhand). Returning to competition after nearly two years, Manju Bala (Rajasthan) claimed the hammer throw gold with a 61.08m effort on her fifth try at the Punjabi University ground. In the men’s 100m heats in the morning, Gurindervir Singh (Punjab) caught the eye with a 10.41 seconds sprint while Amiya Malik (Odisha) showed glimpses of regaining form with 10.50 seconds in winning his heats.