Middle-distance runner Jinson Johnson ran the race of his life to qualify for the Rio Olympics Games in 800m on Monday. He clocked 1:45.98 seconds in Bengaluru, which was the fastest on Indian soil and second-fastest in the history of Indian athletics.
The fourth Indian Grand Prix was the last chance to win a ticket to Brazil, and Johnson had promised to breach the Rio qualification mark of 1:46.00s. “I regret missing the chance in the past. I will use every bit of energy and strength to make the cut,” he had said a day before the race.
The Army runner said a fast pace in the first 400m helped him achieve the goal, adding he was hopeful of doing better in the Olympics.
Besides Johnson, triple jumper Renjith Maheshwary and 200m sprinter Dharamvir Singh also made the cut for the Games, beginning August 5. The duo set national marks in the process.
After a string of below-par performance in the past five years, Maheshwary achieved 17.30m. His national record was better than the Rio qualifying standard of 16.85m. Maheshwary had recorded a personal best of 17.07m in 2010.
Bengaluru turned out to be lucky for the Railways jumper as he will compete in his third Olympics.
In men’s 200m, national champion Dharamvir blazed the track to set a record of 20.40s, better than the Rio qualifying mark of 20.50s.
Last year, the sprinter from Rohtak had won bronze at the Asian Championships.
There was anticipation that the women’s 4x100m relay team would also win a ticket to Rio, but the squad including Dutee Chand failed to impress. The team should have clocked 43.01s to qualify.
The men and women’s 4x400m relay teams have already made the cut.