CHENNAI: The Athletics Federation of India’s (AFI) belief and admiration for the 4x400m relay teams is an open secret. For some time now, AFI chiefs have been stressing that Muhammed Anas & Co are capable of winning an Olympic medal. But their performances of late, or the lack of it, are not supporting their cause. Apart from Anas and VK Vismaya, who recently bettered their national records at the Kladno Memorial Athletics Meet at Kladno in the Czech Republic, there have been no positives regarding the rest of the team (men and women).
The World Relays that was held in May in Yokohama was, in fact, a warning for Indian quarter-milers. Ahead of the event, athletes underwent almost a three-month-long training camp in Turkey under American coach Galina Bukharina. But it did not show in the results with men, women and mixed relay teams failing to reach even the finals. A similar camp was sanctioned in Spala, Poland ahead of the World Championships that will start in September.
While some of them are bagging medals at tournaments in between the camp, it is quite deceiving. The opponents they are facing are not up to world or Olympic level and some of the athletes who emerged victorious performed nowhere close to their personal bests. Arokia Rajiv and Dharun Ayyasamy have been nursing injuries. While Arokia has been out for a while, Dharun is slowly getting better. As far as the women’s team is concerned, Hima Das has not been participating in 400m.
The three gold she won was in 200m. It is understood that MR Poovamma is also injured while Saritaben Gayakwad too has been winning medals with timings below her personal best. With barely two months left for the Worlds, AFI’s preferred quarter-milers are struggling. Arokia Rajiv expressed concerns regarding his own recovery. “I have been injured for a while now.
Initially, I was told by doctors that it will take around 50 days to heal. It has been 70 days now. I have come home from Spala and there is a plan to try out alternative medicine,” said the 28-year-old.When asked about the performances of his teammates, Arokia was optimistic. “These competitions are for us to get adjusted to different conditions. If we stay injury free, we can turn things around.”