Top Indian athletes competing in a women's 400m race at the Inter-State Athletics Championships in Chennai's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium were left stranded as they found themselves waiting on the start line of the track as they were summoned 20 minutes early for their semi-final race.  

Although the race was scheduled to begin at 8pm, the eight athletes in the first women's 400m semifinal were called to the track at 7.40 pm. According to technical officials at the venue, the practice is to call the players to the track from the warm-up area not more than a minute before their start time in all cases.

However, instead of hearing the starters pistol, the athletes, including junior World medalist Priya Mohan ended up standing as the Tamil Nadu Sports Minister Siva V  Meyyanathan, the chief guest of the evening, began to speak. 

The race would finally start after Meyyanathan concluded his speech nearly 20 minutes later. However, the delay was less than ideal for the athletes who had been left waiting for an extended period after already warming up.

"When we warm up, it activates our muscles but when there's such a large time gap (between the warmup and the start of the race) our muscles contract because the body cools down, which affects our performance", said an athlete after finishing the race, while her competitors agreed.

The meet record for the 400m is 51.13 set by Hima Das in 2018 . However, none of the athletes clocked timings anywhere close to this with the fastest time being 52.34 in the semi-final heats.