Anilda Thomas working on a return to track

Anilda Thomas is dusting her spikes and working on a comeback after two and a half years. The Olympian's goal is a spot in the Indian relay team for next year's Asian Games.

Anilda Thomas with her son Evan Sebastian. - SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Just three years ago, India won the women's 4x400m relay gold at the Jakarta Asian Games but this year the country could not even field a team for the World Relays in Poland and failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

There are three major events lined up next year – World Championships (U.S.), Asian Games (China), and Commonwealth Games (England) – and Olympian Anilda Thomas, who is now married (to Jibin Reji) and has a 15-month-old son Evan Sebastian, is dusting her spikes and working on a comeback after two and half years. And the dismal state of the Indian women's relay team has offered the quartermiler hope.

“I've started jogging at the Poojappura ground in Thiruvananthapuram and I'm planning to join coach P. B. Jaikumar's camp in a week. Next year's Asiad is the big motivation,” said Anilda, who ran for India in the women's 4x400m relay at the 2016 Rio Olympics, in a chat with Sportstar on Wednesday.


“If I can run the 400m in something like 53s, I have a good chance of getting back into the Indian team,” said the 28-year-old whose personal best 52.40s came in New Delhi in 2016.

“Because of the long break, I don't know how successful I will be. But I want to give it a try. I was in the national camp till 2018.”

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In April, the AFI withdrew its women's 4x400m relay team from the World Relays as its top runners were either injured or had fitness issues. Later, the country was forced to miss the World Relays altogether as many nations banned flights from India.

Universities in Kerala frequently throw up quality quartermilers and Assumption College's V. K. Vismaya entered the national camp through this route in 2017 and a year later ran for the gold-winning Indian team at the Jakarta Asian Games. P. T. Usha's trainee Tintu Luka was also a part of the Asian Games gold-winning team in 2014 (apart from being a former Asian 800m champion) while another trainee, former Asian 400m silver medallist Jisna Mathew helped India qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in the mixed relay after finishing seventh in the 2019 Doha Worlds.

Surprisingly, the Kerala team for the Open Nationals, which begin in Warangal on September 15, will be without a single female quartermiler. With the global pandemic messing up athletes' training, the timings in the State's university championships were also disappointing with the 400m gold in the recent Kerala University meet going for 1:04.92s.

2022 could be a year of opportunities for Anilda.

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