India stands at the brink of a possible double relay qualification on a single day on June 29th. But can they clock the desired number in time to join their 4x400m relay mixed team debutants? The answer is a yes, subject to conditions.
Even as the opening day of the 60th National Inter State Senior Athletics Championships saw the star-studded women’s 4x100m relay team run a spectacular 43.50s to achieve a new meet record, the timing fell agonizingly short by 0.45 seconds to keep them in contention for a Tokyo Olympics berth.
The quartet of Hima Das, Dutee Chand, S Dhanalakshmi and Archana Suseendran will have one final chance to better their timing in the finals on June 29th, which also happens to be the last date to make the cut to Tokyo.
However, an injury that forced Hima Das out of the 100m heats could be seen as a big blow to the team's possible qualification, as she is a vital part of the roster. Hima ran the second leg in the heats before passing the baton to S Dhanalakshmi.
Men's relay team shines
On the other hand, the Indian men’s 4x400m relay team, comprising of Muhammed Anas, Amoj Jacob, Arokia Rajiv and Noah Nirmal Tom not only won the heats in Patiala, but also edged closer to their Olympic dream, clocking 3:01.89s.
With a definite improvement in the timing from their previous run of 3:02.59s in 2019, the team stands a chance to sit comfortably in the 13th position in the overall World Athletics’ Road to Olympic Games 2020 rankings.
Unlike other individual track events at the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the 4x100m and 4x400m relay events do not have an Olympic qualifying mark. Out of a total of 16 slots up for grabs in each event, a nation can qualify in two ways:
- Winning available berths in the two designated qualifying events - the 2019 World Athletics Championships and the 2021 World Athletics Relays
- By virtue of world rankings for the remaining slots
As of today, 14 teams in the women’s 4x100m relay are already Tokyo-bound, and the remaining two will be booked on the basis of a final list of world rankings. In order to make the cut, the Indian women’s 4x100m team will need to break into the top 16 from their current 20th position. To do this, the quartet not only have to breach their meet record, but clock at least 43.05s to climb up the ranks. Their last best timing of 43.37s was recorded a week ago at the Indian Grand Prix 4, which stands as the current national record.
For the uninitiated, the now postponed tournament will see a new addition to the relay event - the 4x400m mixed team race. India sealed an Olympic berth in 2019, courtesy a seventh-place finish at the World Athletics Championship in Doha.
The Indian quartet comprising of Muhammed Anas, Velluva Vismaya, Jisna Mathew and Noah Nirmal Tom clocked a spectacular 3:15.77, after reaching the final in the first of its kind event.