Indian men’s and women’s 4x400m relay race teams are close to Rio Olympics qualification after clocking impressive timings at the 3rd Indian Grand Prix athletics event here on Sunday.
The men’s 4x400m relay quartet of Kunhu Muhammed, Muhammed Anas, Ayyasamy Dharun and Arokia Rajiv (running as India A) smashed the national record by finishing the race with a timing of 3:00.91 seconds at Sree Kanteerava Stadium here.
The quartet clipped more than one second from their four-week old earlier national record of 3:02.17 seconds, which they clocked at Erzurum, Turkey.
The men’s 4x400m relay team leaped to 13th spot on Sunday in the current world rankings from last night’s 18th. The top 16 countries in the world at the deadline of July 11 will qualify for Rio Olympics.
The women’s 4x400m relay quartet of Nirmala Sheoran, Tintu Luka, M R Poovamma and Anilda Thomas (running as India A) made tremendous improvement in their timing, clocking 3:27.88 seconds -- the fourth best time ever -- to also qualify for Rio Olympics.
The women’s 4x400m relay team, which slipped to 14th spot on Saturday due to the ongoing European championships in Amsterdam, bounced back to its original 12th place on Sunday after this performance.
Athletics Federation of India secretary CK Valson said that both the men’s and women’s 4x400m relay teams are certain to qualify for Rio Olympics.
“The women’s and men’s 4x400m relay team have virtually qualified for Rio Olympics. The women’s and men’s relay teams, are now placed 12th and 13th position,” Valson told PTI here.
To make the event eligible for Olympic qualification, athletes from Sri Lanka and Maldives have been invited to take part in the relay races. At least, two international teams are required to make the event counted for Olympic qualification.
With the addition of the men’s and women’s 4x400m relay teams, the Indian track and field contingent is likely to swell to 33 as 24 have already qualified for the Rio Games.
Muhammad Anas (men’s 400m) and Nirmala Sheoran (women’s 400m) and Tintu Luka (women’s 800m) have already qualified for the Olympics in their individual events and since they are expected to be in the relay teams, another nine will be part of the two relay squads of six each.
This will take the total number of Indian sportspersons for Rio Olympics to 114 as 105 have already qualified.