Indian track and field athletes have been utilizing the opportunity well at the Indian Grand Prix 4 in NIS Patiala, Punjab, in order to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics 2020. The event was organized for those who were hoping to earn big tickets for the quadrennial event in Japan. As the date for the Olympics qualification inches closer, the athletes are punching above their weight to get on the flight to Tokyo next month.
The Indian Grand Prix 4 has witnessed some records getting shattered. This is a testament to the athletes' preparation and hunger to earn an Olympic berth at the Tokyo Olympics. Women's discus thrower Kamalpreet Kaur emerged as a star performer, followed by India's sprint queen Dutee Chand.
Other Tokyo-bound athletes, apart from Kamalpreet Kaur, have also appeared at the Indian Grand Prix 4, including Murali Sreeshankar, VK Vismaya, Muhammad Anas Yahiya, and Noah Nirmal Tom. M. Sreeshankar won the long jump with a distance of 7.74 meters, while the men's 4x400m relay team won the event by clocking 3:02.61.
India's shot putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor created the national record with a throw of 21.49 and simultaneously booked the Olympic berth at the Tokyo Olympics 2020. Annu Rani won the women's javelin throw event by throwing at a distance of 60.58 in the sixth attempt, but it wasn't enough to earn an Olympic berth as the qualification mark for women's javelin throw is 64.00m.
Those athletes who have not managed to earn the tickets to Japan yet will have one more chance. The 60th National Inter-State Senior Athletics Championships in Patiala, which is scheduled to commence on 25th June 2021, is the last lifeline for track and field athletes to make the cut for the Olympics.
Kamalpreet Kaur shatters her own national record at the Indian Grand Prix 4
Kamalpreet Kaur made headlines today at the ongoing Indian Grand Prix 4 by breaking her own national record in the discus throw. She threw the discus at a distance of 66.59m in the fifth attempt, improving her throw by 1.53m. The 25-year-old from Punjab was the only discus thrower to compete at the event.
Her previous national record of 65.06m, which was set during the 24th National Federation Cup Senior Athletics Championships, enabled her to earn an Olympic berth for the Tokyo Olympics 2020. She also became the first female discus thrower to break the 65-meter mark.
Kamalpreet Kaur's new national record is the highest by any discus thrower in the country, surpassing Vikas Gowda's record of 66.28. Her throw of 66.59m at the Indian Grand Prix 4 is the world's eighth-highest this season.
The 25-year-old from Punjab will make her Olympic debut at the Tokyo Olympics 2020. Considering her new national record, Kamalpreet can earn a medal at the quadrennial event if she consistently throws the discus at a distance between 65m-66m.
Dutee Chand misses the Olympic qualification mark
India's female star sprinter Dutee Chand couldn't make the cut for the Tokyo Olympics 2020 after failing to achieve the Olympic qualification mark of 11.15 seconds at the Indian Grand Prix 4. She clocked the 100m sprint in 11.17 seconds, missing out on the qualification mark by just 0.02 seconds.
Nevertheless, Dutee Chand's timing at the Indian Grand Prix shattered her own national record of 11.22 seconds, which was set at the 2019 National Open Championships. Achieving the Olympic qualification mark while setting a national record would've been the ideal scenario for India's fastest woman, but it wasn't to be.
Meanwhile, the women's 4x100m relay team of Dutee Chand, Hima Das, Dhanalakshmi, and Archana Suseentran set a new national record with a timing of 43.27 seconds. The previous best was 43.26 seconds in 2016. However, this is not enough for India to earn direct qualification for the Tokyo Olympics 2020. The qualification mark for women's 4x100m is 43.05 seconds.
With the new national record, the women's 4x100m relay team has improved their ranking to 20th from 22nd in the World Athletics Rankings. This has certainly given them hope to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics 2020 by making it into the top 16 teams.