Inter-State Athletics Championships: 4x400m relay proves a farce

There were three AFI teams among the seven for the 4x400m relay. Antony (AFI A) pulled up 200m into the third leg of the race and Anas, who was to run the anchor leg, took the baton from Sajin (AFI B) instead and ran away! Sachin Roby, the AFI B anchor runner, did not run. Gajana Mistry, who was to run the final leg for AFI C, too did not run.

Avinash Sable set a new meet record in the 3000m Steeplechase with a timing of 8:33.19.   -  Special Arrangement

The elite men’s 4x400m squad was specially flown in from its training base in Europe for the 59th Inter-State Athletics Championships here to give it a chance to consolidate its spot among the top 16 in the world and at the World Championships next month.

That did not happen. What transpired instead on Friday was a farce that would perhaps now force the AFI to reassess its team combination and hope one of its best medal bets stays on course for the Worlds.

The quartermilers flown in included Muhammed Anas Yahiya, Noah Nirmal Tom, Amoj Jacob and KS Jeevan among others. However, with three AFI teams among the seven in the race, the composition was changed on the day of the competition to include Alex Antony and Harsh Baljeet Singh, who had clocked impressive timings in the 400m earlier.

Antony (AFI A) pulled up 200m into the third leg of the race and Anas, who was to run the anchor leg, took the baton from Sajin (AFI B) instead and ran away! Sachin Roby, the AFI B anchor runner, did not run. Gajana Mistry, who was to run the final leg for AFI C, too did not run.

While AFI B was ‘Disqualified’, the other two AFI teams were eventually declared ‘Did Not Finish’.

While the confusion persisted, some of the national coaches present even tried to dismiss it all as unimportant. “The main target here was to simply check their timings and see their performances. Anyone from the 12 can be in the final squad, we only wanted to see them all in action” was the explanation being offered!

Even that objective would not have been met, though, given the slow pace of the race. Thankfully, the federation decided to revise the results.

Murali Sreeshankar won the long jump with a below par 7.83m effort.   -  Special Arrangement

  The one result that did go on expected lines was Murali Sreeshankar winning the long jump with 7.83metres.

The 20-year old, who has already qualified for the Worlds, fouled three of his jumps but was so far ahead of the rest that winning was never in doubt. He wasn’t too satisfied with the distance.

Avinash Sable, who has also qualified for Worlds, meanwhile, continued his record-breaking form to set a new meet record in the 3000m Steeplechase with a timing of 8:33.19.

Dutee Chand was one of the stars expected to get the elusive World Championships berth here but the Odisha sprinter could only manage an under-par 11.38 seconds to win the 100m dash.

In the 110m hurdles, Siddhanth Thingalaya faltered at the very first hurdle and although he managed to win, the national record holder could not regain his rhythm for the rest of the race, clocking a disappointing 13.99 seconds.