Indian GP: India's relay team puts on impressive show

Indian men’s 4x400m relay team turned in its second record-breaking performance in a month to place itself on the cusp of qualifying for the Rio Olympics at the Indian Grand Prix.

The team of P. Kunhumohammed, Mohammed Anas, A. Dharun and Arokia Rajiv clocked an impressive 3.00.91s to better its own time of 3:02.17s set in Erzurum, Turkey in June.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Indian men’s 4x400m relay team turned in its second record-breaking performance in a month to place itself on the cusp of qualifying for the Rio Olympics at the Shriram Properties third Indian Grand Prix at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday.

The team of P. Kunhumohammed, Mohammed Anas, A. Dharun and Arokia Rajiv clocked an impressive 3.00.91s to better its own time of 3:02.17s set in Erzurum, Turkey in June. With an average time of 3.01.54s, India is now 13th – at the time of going to press – in the list of 16 elite nations eligible to compete.

Its position may still change based on the results at the ongoing European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam. However, it will get another chance on Monday, if need be, to ensure a top-16 spot.

After the effort in Turkey, the team was expected to put on a good show at the Inter-State meet in Hyderabad recently. But a slow final changeover put paid to those hopes. In Bengaluru, though, there was to be no such trouble as the team came up with a near-flawless act.

“We have practised very hard for the last one and a half years,” said an ecstatic Rajiv after the race. “We kept trying and it finally clicked. We have to thank AFI [Athletics Federation of India] for all the help.”

Surprise

“We were confident about the women’s team. But didn’t expect such a timing from the men’s team,” said AFI Secretary C.K. Valson. “It’s a very very good performance.”

The women’s 4x400m relay team’s position was unchanged on 12th. But the group of Nirmala Sheoran, Tintu Luka, M.R. Poovamma and Anilda Thomas clocked 3:27.88s, its fastest in the qualification period thus far. A similar performance on Monday, if warranted, can confirm a Rio berth.

However, the women’s 4x100m team, comprising Dutee Chand, ran a disappointing 44.34s (against its top two times of 43.42s and 44.03s) primarily owing to a slow changeover from H.M. Jyothi to Srabani Nanda. It will require a massive effort on the final day of the Grand Prix series to make the cut.

Elsewhere, the only one who raised hopes of qualification was V. Neena in the women’s long jump. Against a required mark of 6.70m, she recorded a wind-assisted leap of 6.57m on her second attempt. But she frittered away from there on, with distances of of 6.50m, 6.33m and 6.28m.

However, the AFI decided to add long jump to the list of events on Monday to give Neena one final opportunity. Women’s 800m has also been added to the list possibly to give M. Gomathi a chance.

The results (Indians unless specified)

Men: 100m: 1. Hassan Saaid (Maldives) 10.37s (wind speed +1.2), 2. Krishna Kumar Rane, 10.46s, 3. Amiya Kumar Mallick, 10.49s; 5000m: 1. Lakshmanan, 14:28.70s, 2. T. Gopi, 14:31.46s, 3. Yonus Khan, 14:33.66s; 110m hurdles: 1. Siddanth Thigalaya, 13.75s (+1.3), 2. Rajul Dev Gautam, 20.37s; Long jump: 1. Anees, 7.80m (+1.7), 2. Yugant Shekhar, 7.80m (+1.2), 3. S.E. Samsheer, 7.50m (+0.1); Shot put: 1. Inderjeet Singh, 19.85m, 2. Tajinderpal Toor, 18.66m, 3. Om Prakash, 18.64m; Javelin: Amit Kumar, 76.25m, 2. Rajinder Singh, 75.40m, 3. Vipin Kasana, 73.85m; 4x400m: 1. India 'A', (Kunhumuhammed, Mohammed Anas, A. Dharun, Arokia Rajiv), 3:00:91s, NR (OR: 3.02.17s, India 'A', Turkey, 2016), 2. India 'B' (Sumit Kumar, Mohan Kumar, Jithin Paul, Lalit Mathur), 3:04.28s, 3. India 'C' (Pankaj Mallik, Amoj Jacob, Kiran Murugan, Harsh Kumar), 3:11.47s.

Women: 5000m: 1. L. Surya, 16:38.79s, 2. Swathi Gadve, 16:40.80s, 3. Kavitha Raut, 18:20.65s; Long jump: 1. V. Neena, 6.57m (+2.3), 2. M.A. Prajusha, 6.04m (+1.1); Triple jump: 1. Shilpa Chacko, 13.41m (+0.8), 2. N.V. Neena, 13.29m (+0.9); Shot put: 1. Manpreet Kaur Jr, 15.96m, 2. Navajeeth Kaur, 14.91m; 4x100m: India 'A' (Merlin Joseph, H.M. Jyothi, Srabani Nanda, Dutee Chand), 44.34s, 2. India 'B' (Himashree Roy, Sini Sahadevan, V. Santhini, Reena George), 45.70s, 3. Maldives (Shareef Areen Ali, Aishath Zara Athif, Ahamed Khadeeja, Jueez Aminath Jaaisha), 56.29s; 4x400m: 1. India 'A' (Nirmala Sheoran, Tintu Luka, M.R. Poovamma, Anilda Thomas), 3:27.88s, 2. India 'B' (Debashree Majumdar, Ashwini Akkunji, Priyanka Panwar, Jisna Mathew), 3:32.61s, 3. India 'C' (Anu Raghavan, Sini Jose, Jauna Murmu, Soundarya), 3:33.97s.