As the Tokyo Olympics athletics qualification period is coming to a close, many Track and Field athletes across the world are trying to push their limits to qualify for the mega event. Indian athletes will also try to give their best in whatever little competition that is available for them to book their Tokyo Olympics 2020 ticket.
Due to the pandemic, almost all Indian Track and Field athletes have not had any competition since the 2021 Federation Cup that was held in March, earlier this year. Although all the athletes have been training very hard, there have been no results to show for it.
Earlier this month, a bunch of elite Indian athletes were slated to participate in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. However, due to quarantine rules in these countries, the Athletics Federation of India decided to organize another Indian Grand Prix meet to ensure more Tokyo Olympics qualifications.
The 4th edition of the Indian Grand Prix meeting is slated to take place in Patiala on the 21st of this month. The events that have been finalized for this Grand Prix meet are 400 meters, 1500 meters, 400 meters hurdles, 3000 meters steeplechase, Long Jump, Triple Jump, Shot Put, Javelin Throw and 4*400 relay for men and 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters, 1500 meters, 5000 meters, Discus Throw, Javelin Throw and 4x100m relay for women.
Quite a few Indian athletes will try to put their best foot forward to achieve either a direct qualification mark or consolidate their ranking for the Tokyo Olympics in this meet. While athletes who have qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics like Murali Sreeshankar will look to get into competition mode.
Although the likes of Annu Rani (Women's Javelin) and M.P. Jabir (Men's 400 meters hurdles) are comfortably placed as far as clinging on to their ranking quota is concerned, others like TajinderPal Toor (Men's shot put) are precariously placed in their rankings for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
We will take a look at five Indian athletes who are not safe as far as world rankings are concerned. Here is a look at 5 Indian athletes who can achieve direct qualification mark at IGP-4:
Five athletes who will want to book a berth for the Tokyo Olympics
#5. TajinderPal Toor
2018 Asian Games gold medalist TajinderPal Toor has been one of the most consistent performers on the Asian circuit in the shot put. The competition this Olympic cycle, in the men's shot put, however, has been beyond anyone's imagination. More than 30 athletes across different countries have achieved the direct qualification mark of 21.10 meters to book their 2020 Tokyo Olympics ticket.
If this trend continues, TP Toor, who was hoping to make a cut for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics based on ranking, might miss his Olympic ticket. That being said, the 2019 Asian Champion will be going hell for leather to achieve the 2020 Tokyo Olympics automatic qualification mark of 21.10 meters at the Indian Grand Prix meet as he is very much capable of doing that.
#4. Seema Punia
37-year-old veteran discus thrower, Seema Punia, also finds her name on this list. The 2014 Asian Games gold medalist has been one of the most consistent performers for India over the last 20 years. She has represented India at the 2004, 2012 and 2016 Olympics and is looking in good shape to make it to the quadrennial event for the fourth time at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The Commonwealth games multi-medalist has a season's best of 62.64 meters, which she achieved at the Federation Cup earlier this year. Historically, she has given her best performances in the Olympic years. She is very much capable of achieving the Tokyo Olympics 2020 automatic qualification mark of 63.50 meters at the Indian Grand Prix meet if she produces her best form again.
#3. Karthik Unnikrishnan
Triple Jumper Karthik Unnikrishnan has been a consistent performer on the national circuit. He has been jumping over 16.70 meters regularly in various national meetings since 2019. He jumped a distance of 16.73 meters to finish 1st at the 2021 Federation cup.
At the Indian Grand Prix Meet, he would be expecting to achieve the 2020 Tokyo Olympics automatic qualification mark of 17.14 meters. He has a personal best of 16.80 meters and looking at his consistency, he should be pushing for 17.14 meters at the Indian Grand Prix meet to book his ticket for the Tokyo Olympics.
#2. Harmilan Bains
The progression shown by Indian middle-distance runner Harmilan Bains since 2019 has been beyond anyone's imagination. She clocked a time of 4:08.70 at the 2021 Federation Cup to finish first in the 1500 meters for women. With this timing, she became India's 2nd fastest 1500 meter runner of all time behind Sunita Rani.
At the Indian Grand Prix meet, she will be hoping to clock the 2020 Tokyo Olympics automatic qualifying mark of 4:04.20. She is an athlete who can deliver the goods in pressure situations.
#1. Hima Das
Hima Das has been one of the most popular track and field Indian athletes in recent times. She is a versatile athlete and she has shown her prowess in both short sprints and one-lap sprints. She won a gold medal at the 2018 World U20 championship in 400 meters. However, after a brilliant 2018 in 400 meters, she lost her shape and switched back to run 100-meter and 200-meter events.
At the 2021 Federation cup, she seemed to be back to her best form when she clocked a time of 23.21 seconds to win a gold medal in the 200 meters for women. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualification mark for women's 200 meters is 22.80 seconds. If she tactically paces her race and runs a split of 11.6 and 11.2 seconds for her first and second 100 meters at the Indian Grand Prix meet, she can realize her dream of being an Olympian.