Indian women relay team still in the hunt for Rio

The Indian relay team that won the PTS athletics Grand Prix needs to compete regularly in Europe and improve performances to remain in the top-16 in the World relay rankings, which will allow it to compete in the Olympics.

Indian relay team, after winning 4x400 metres relay at the 12th South Asian Games. India, which is 15th in World relay rankings, needs to stay in the top-16 to qualify for the Rio Games.   -  K. Murali Kumar

The Indian women 4x400m relay quartet of Jauna Murmu, Ashwini Akkunji, Anilda Thomas and M. R. Poovamma enhanced its Rio Olympic Games qualification chances by winning a gold medal at the PTS athletics Grand Prix with an impressive timing of 3:31.39.

The top-eight finalists in last year’s IAAF World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas, have an automatic entry. The remaining eight slots (nine to 16) shall be filled by taking into account the best two performances achieved by a national squad in international competitions held between January 1, 2015 and July 11, 2016.

India’s national team’s best mark in 2015 (3:29.08) came from Jisna Mathew, Tintu Luka, Debasree Majumdar and Poovamma during the World Championships at Beijing.

Taking into account yesterday’s mark (3:31.39), the Indian team is currently ranked 15th in the unique World relay rankings prepared specially for the purpose of Rio Olympics with an average time of 3:30.24.

The Russian Federation, currently suspended by the IAAF following widespread doping scandal, may come back and with a better average of 3:24.29, it may push India down by one place.

Germany went out of the top-16 following the Indian entry last night. However with large number of opportunities available to the German team, both on home and in neighbouring countries, it also has chances of coming back strongly.

The Indian team now needs to compete regularly in Europe and improve performances to remain in the top-16.