AFI chief Sumariwalla confident relay teams can make it to Tokyo Olympics

India’s current sprint power is the best it has ever had, says a confident Athletics Federation of India chief Sumariwalla.


Clearly, girls like Dutee Chand, Hima Das and Dhanalakshmi have made the federation confident.   -  Getty Images

There are just two slots left to fight for in the women’s 4x100m relay for the Olympics and at No. 22, India is way down in the Road to Tokyo rankings. But Adille Sumariwalla believes the team will make the cut.

“The 4x100m women will run and qualify. They have not run, that is why they are way below in the rankings. One meet if they run, they will come up,” said the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) president to Sportstar.

Clearly, girls like Dutee Chand, Hima Das and Dhanalakshmi have made the federation confident.

“Never in the history of Indian athletics have we had a sprint power like this. We have not run in two years and we are confident when the competition comes, the very first time they run, they will qualify. This sort of sprint power nobody has.”

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Change in stance

That came as a bit of a surprise for only a few weeks ago, the AFI withdrew its women’s 4x400m team — which the federation keeps insisting has the potential to win an Olympic medal — from the World Relays in Poland before the flight ban forced India to miss the event. The AFI had explained then that injuries and fitness issues were the reasons for the withdrawal.

In fact, after the pull-out, many had wondered whether the country could put together a quality women’s mile relay team for Tokyo.

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Confirmed berth

India has a confirmed Olympic berth in the mixed 4x400m relay and the 4x400m men and women are in very shaky 14th and 15th rungs respectively in World Athletics’ rankings with a little over a month to go before the qualification doors close on June 29.

Only 16 teams are allowed in the relays and a lot could happen in a month but Sumariwalla is a very confident man.

“All the three relay teams will qualify,” he said. “And if athletes are not fit, they will be fit by the time of the final trials,” said the AFI chief adding that the final trials will be held during the Grand Prix next month.

The AFI is now busy trying to work out foreign trips. “We are talking to four or five countries simultaneously. We are trying to see where they can compete,” he said.

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