CHENNAI: The men’s and women’s 4x100m relay teams attained the qualifying standards for the Asian Athletic Championship while the 4x400m squads failed during the selection trials conducted by Athletics Federation of India on Wednesday. Asian Games javelin throw bronze medallist Annu Rani made the cut hurling the spear to 58.66m. In pole vault, VS Surekha failed to clear the 4.15m mark.
The men’s short-relay team comprising Jyoti Shankar Debnath, Krishna Kumar Rane, Amiya Mallick and Manikanda Arumugam clocked 39.11s against the cut off mark of 39.18. The inclusion of Manikanda in the trials at SAI-Benguluru came as a shock because his name was not on the list of AFI for Wuhan. However, AFI officials came up with an explanation that he was included only for the trials as Dharambir Singh, who was listed in the relay squad, had no experience in baton exchange.
There was more drama as the officials maintained that Praveen Muthukumaran, who was part of the six-member team, had ran instead of Manikanda. Finally, owing to pressure from the media present at the venue, organisers accepted the mistake.
The women’s team in the short-relay clocked a neat 44.99s. The qualifying mark was 45.03s. However, in the women’s 4x400m trials held in Patiala, Debashree Majumdar, who ran the second leg, dropped the baton and the team finished at 3:39.23 against the qualifying mark of 3:36.09.
The men’s 4x400 team had an agonising miss as they finished in 3:06.52. The cut off mark stood at 3:06.01. The top brass of the federation is divided over whether to conduct fresh trials and till late in the evening, a decision was not reached. Technical experts, it has been reliably learnt, have asked the federation not to conduct further trials as it would exhaust athletes.