The performance at the World Championships is a major confidence booster, but replicating the timing at the Asian Games will be difficult given that the field will be less competitive, feels Indian men’s 4x400m relay team member Amoj Jacob.
Jacob, Muhammed Anas Yahiya, Muhammed Ajmal Variyathodi and Rajesh Ramesh shattered the Asian record, clocking 2:59.05 seconds to take the Indian men’s relay team to its first ever World Championship final last week.
At the Asian Games, the quartet will be the frontrunners to win gold.
“Definitely, (it) will be hard for us to get 2:58 (because) we won’t get that much challenge from anyone else at the Asian Games. Everyone will be looking at us,” Jacob said during an online media interaction arranged by JSW.
“I think Japan will be competitive, they have three 44 runners. Don’t know about the timings, anything can happen on that day,” he added.
The Indian team finished fifth in the final clocking 2:59.92. Jacob revealed the team was feeling fatigued after the heat.
“Before the heat, we were focusing on running 2:58. Our coach Jason had some plans. He asked to try and be in the first bunch—directly qualify. But, after that race, Rajesh was puking for an hour and we were very tired,” Jacob, who ran the fastest split in the heats, said.
Reflecting on the final, Jacob said had Ajmal not jumped over a Botswana runner who fell down at the beginning of his leg, the Indian team’s timing would have been better.
“Major drawback was Ajmal jumping over the Botswana guy otherwise if he hadn’t fallen we would have clocked 2:58. In the second leg also I got blocked, I tried to catch them till 200m, I went all out but then I got tired.”
Ajmal said it was the small things that didn’t go there way in the final.
“We had set a target to finish the race at sub 3 min, we were happy with the heat but couldn’t do it in the final, there were small things that led to us not being able to achieve it, but to be able to do that in the heats, gives us confidence for Asian Games,” Ajmal said.
Meanwhile, Anas, a member of the gold-winning 4x400m mixed relay team at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games, said that a recent tweak in the baton exchange technique has helped them become quicker.
“Rajmohan sir has changed the baton exchange a little recently. It helped to exchange the baton a little quicker than before, that small tweak has made the team more confident in the relay aspect,” Anas said.
Frustrated by a spate of injuries, Jacob, who specialises in 400m 800m, contemplated leaving the sport.
“I stopped running 800m because I was not able to do the workout. I can’t handle that much running. It is tough to be a sprinter coming from long distance.
“We have to work a lot on technical issues, and that is why I also had many injuries. I also thought of quitting athletics. Right now I am working on technique which is getting better. Last year, I had some 6-7 injuries,” he said.
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