CHENNAI: The Athletics Federation of India named a 20-strong squad for the upcoming World Relays in Silesia, Poland. The squad is mostly on expected lines but it has reemphasised that Hima Das, a 400m junior world champion in 2019, is not fit enough to be in the 400m senior relay squad. However, she figures in the 4x100m squad along with Dutee Chand.
The importance of this meet, one of the first international meets amid the pandemic for a majority of India’s athletics squad, cannot be understated. The 400m relay squad has been talked up for the last few years but both the men’s and women’s teams are yet to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. In fact, among all the relay teams, only the mixed 4x400 have booked their lot thus far.
A good time in Poland can give the team a Tokyo berth provided they are within the top eight when the ranking cut off is applied in the last week of June. AFI president Adille Sumariwalla said they tried different countries like South Africa, Czech Republic but because of the complex covid restrictions and norms they decided to go to Turkey for training and competition.
“We have to find a hotel and a country willing to give visas,” said the AFI chief. “India is getting warmer and difficult for training. So we are going to places that are safe and good for training. Finland is another country we have been trying. If we get the nod the athletes will move there. We have to find a secured place.”
Javelin throwers Neeraj Chopra and Shivpal Singh, who have qualified for the Olympics, along with Rohit Yadav, Rajender Singh and Annu Rani too will go to Turkey. Athletes will return to India for inter-state athletics in June. Interestingly, athletes like Anajali Devi, Jisna Mathew and javelin thrower Rajinder Singh are yet to compete in any major event this year.
Men: 4x400 Amoj Jacob, Naganathan P, Md Anas, Arokia Rajiv, Sarthak B, Dharun Ayyasamy, Nirmal Noah Tom.Women: 4x400: MR Poovamma, V Subha, Kiran, Anjali, Revathi, VK Vismaya, Jisna Mathew.
4x100: Dhanalakshmi, Dutee Chand, Hima Das, Archana Suseendran, Himashree, Daneshwari.