Indian female sprinters Hima Das and Dutee Chand are set to join forces in the 4×100m women's relay team as it gears up to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics next year. The side will participate in the Asian Relay Championships in Thailand in April 2021, followed by the World Relay Championships in Poland the month later.
Having not qualified in the 4×100m women's relay in the Olympics since Sydney 2000, the Indian contingent will be desperate to make it to the event this time. Along with Das and Dutee Chand, the likes of Archana Suseendran, Himashree Roy, Sneha PJ, and Diandra Valladares will be aiming to work together to book the Olympic berth for the relay team.
Good to have Hima in the team, everyone is working hard to qualify for the Olympics: Dutee Chand
Hima Das broke into the scene in 2018, winning a silver medal in the 400m relay (50.49 seconds) in the Jakarta Asian Games but got compelled to focus on 100m and 200m sprints because of her back injuries. Speaking on her injury concerns, Indian chief national coach Radhakrishnan Nair said that running a shorter relay won't make her injury flare-up.
“There is no (back) issue when she runs the 100m. Thus her talent will be put to use in the shorter relay."
Rio Olympian Dutee Chand has held the record of the fastest Indian women's sprinter to run 100m in 11.22 seconds, which she accomplished in the 59th National Open Championships held in Ranchi last year. As per Nair, she will be leading the Indian contingent upfront in the qualifying tournaments next year.
To qualify directly for the 4×100m relay in the Tokyo Olympics, the Indian sprinters will have to seek a top-eight finish in Poland. If that doesn't happen, the side will be aiming for a Top-16 finish in the global rankings to earn the Tokyo ticket.
"There are half a dozen Indian sprinters who clock around 11.50 secs, while Dutee’s personal best is 11.22 secs. It is an advantage to achieve a top 16 global ranking by the end of June and become eligible to compete in the Olympics," Nair said.
Currently training in Bhubaneshwar, Dutee Chand expressed how she felt about having Hima Das in her team and the aspiration of making it to the Olympics next year.
“We have a young and new team. It’s good Hima is also there. Working as a team is what matters in a relay. All the sprinters are eager to perform and everyone is working hard towards the common goal of qualifying for the Olympics.”
The Indian women’s team missed out on qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics after ending one spot behind the eligible top 16. Dutee Chand set the target of 43 seconds combined for the team to qualify and book a berth in the upcoming Games set to kick start in July 2021 while expressing her views on the matter.
“We have been doing well in the relay for the past couple of years, but the current lot is super good. All we have to do is combine as a unit to clock a good time. Something below 43 seconds will be good,” said Dutee Chand.
It will be intriguing to see how the Indian sprinters perform in the qualifying tournaments with eight months to go for the Olympics.