Three track and field athletes, including veteran triple jumper Renjith Maheswary, on Monday booked Rio Olympics berths with national record-breaking performances in the 4th Indian Grand Prix.
Maheswary and Dharambir Singh (200m) shattered national records, while Jinson Johnson ran the second fastest ever 800m race by an Indian to better Rio qualification marks on a dramatic day at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.
Haryana lad Dharambir, 27, clocked 20.45 seconds and bettered the Rio qualification mark of 20.50 seconds. He also improved his own national mark of 20.66 seconds set at the Asian Championships in China last year.
Dharambir will be the first Indian to run in an Olympics 200m race in 36 years. The last Indian to do so in an Olympics was Tamil Nadu’s Perumal Subramaniam in the 1980 Games.
The men’s and women’s 4x400m relay teams are also certain to make the Rio cut as they both stood at the 13th spot after the end of the European Championships in Amsterdam on Sunday night. The top 16 relay teams qualify for Rio Olympics and Monday was the deadline for Rio Games qualification for athletics events.
International Association of Athletics Federations is expected to release a list of all qualified relay teams for Rio Olympics on Tuesday.
It was a do-or-die situation for 30-year-old Kerala athlete Maheswary, who has often been criticised for landing with ‘no marks’ in two major events -- World Championships in 2011 and 2012 Olympics. He set a national record of 17.30m while also bettering the Rio qualification mark of 16.85m. The earlier national record was held by Arpinder Singh.
Maheswary, who will be participating in his third straight Olympic Games after 2008 and 2012, has been trying to qualify for Rio since last year.