India’s Seema Punia failed to qualify for the final in the women’s discus throw on Day 15 of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Her best throw was only 57.58m, good enough only for 20th place in the qualifying round.
To progress to the final, the women needed to throw 62.00 metres to qualify automatically. If not, the 12 best performers would go through to the final to be held the next morning.
34 athletes were split into two groups and Seema Punia was slotted into Group B. In wet conditions after a storm had interrupted the track and field events at the Rio Olympic stadium, Group A saw many athletes falter in the circle and fouling their attempts.
Right at the start, Whitney Ashley, Natalia Stratulat, Pauline Pousse and Mariya Telushkina all fouled their attempts. Many women failed to record a legitimate attempt even if they managed to stay in the circle – either hitting the net or seeing the discus land outside the field of play. Athletes were seen using towels vigorously to keep the discus and their hands as dry as possible.
Bin Feng of China was the first to qualify from Group A with a throw of 62.01m – one centimetre more than the qualification mark. Soon Sandra Perkovic of Croatia threw 64.81m while Denia Caballero of Cuba threw 62.94m. Australia’s Dani Samuels was the only other woman to qualify automatically with a distance of 64.46m.
Punia’s personal best was 62.62m – a mark she achieved in 2016 itself at the Pat Young's Throwers Classic in California. The JSW Sports Excellence Program athlete had won a gold medal at the Asian Games in Incheon in 2014 and needed a similar throw to qualify for the final.
However, her first throw of 57.58m was well off the mark while she also fouled her second attempt. In her group, Yaime Perez of Cuba, Xinyue Su of China, Nadine Muller of Germany and Melina Robert-Michon of France all qualified with the Cuban in the lead with a throw of 65.38m after two throws.
Sadly, Seema’s final throw didn’t cross the 60.00m mark, let alone the qualification mark of 62.00m. She bowed out with a throw of 56.78m and finished 20th.
Yaime Perez managed to qualify on top with a distance of 65.38m. In all, eight women autmatically qualified with a distance of more than 62.00m while the next four best athletes qualified in the top 12.