What’s the exact size of the Indian contingent that will compete in Beijing? Is it 57 or 56? The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) list shows that 57 sportspersons will be taking part in the quadrennial Games. But the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) clarified on Saturday that 16 and not 17 athletes would be going to Beijing, thus bringing down the contingent size by one.
So where did the IOA’s calculation go wrong?
The IOA list showed 17 athletes including six women — Mandeep Kaur, Chitra Soman, Sini Jose, M.R. Poovamma, S. Geeta and K. Mridula — in the 4x400m relay race, besides Manjit Kaur in the 400m event.
But since Manjit, who hails from Punjab, is the national record holder, she automatically qualifies for the relay team and the AFI has decided to include her as she has recovered from the hamstring injury she suffered recently.
If Manjit got the nod in both the relay and the individual event then there is no option of a second reserve for the relays. The AFI therefore decided to exclude K Mridula's name from the list.
AFI secretary, Lalit Bhanot, when contacted said, “Sixteen athletes would be competing in Beijing. Manjit is one of the six members of the 4x400m relay team… She will participate in the individual event too.
“Mandeep Kaur, Chitra Soman, Sini Jose, M.R. Poovamma and S. Geeta are the other members of the relay squad,” he said.
Sources said the AFI had forwarded Mridula's name as a reserve as a contingency plan. But with Manjit Kaur regaining fitness, the Andhra athlete's name has been removed.