Four Indian athletes – in the men’s and women’s 1500 metres race – managed to clear the Athletics Federation of India qualification guidelines for Asian Athletics Championships that will be held in Doha, from April 21 to April 24. The qualification marks were achieved in the fourth leg of the Indian Athletics Grand Prix held in Panchkula, Chandigarh on Wednesday.
The final selection of Indian team for Doha championships will take place after the 23rd Federation Cup Senior National Athletics Championships to be held from March 15-18 in Patiala.
Haryana athlete Manjit Singh Chahal, who had won a gold medal in the 800m at the Asian Games, grabbed the win in the men’s 1500m race. He crossed the finish line in a time of 3 minutes and 45.37 seconds, going under the qualification guideline which stood at 3 minutes and 46 seconds.
He was joined by Ajay Kumar Saroj, who clocked a time of 3:45.75 minutes, also under the qualification guideline. Saroj, 22, will be hoping to defend his Asian Championships gold medal, having won the 1500m race at the previous edition in Bhubaneswar in 2017.
In the women’s competition over the same distance, Lili Das and PU Chithra went under the AFI’s guideline of 4:15.00 minutes. The 21-year-old Das clocked a time of 4:13.53 minutes to edge out Chithra who clocked a time of 4:13.58 minutes. Chithra won the gold medal of the 1500m race at the 2017 edition of the AAC in Bhubaneswar.
VK Vismaya of Kerala and Arokia Rajiv of Tamil Nadu won the women’s and men’s 200m races respectively. Rajiv who won two silver medals over the 4x400 men’s and mixed team relay at the Asian Games in 2018, was fast off the blocks in the 200m race, and won with a time of 20.74 seconds, not far from the national record of 20.63s which stands in the name of Muhammad Anas. Rajiv was hardly challenged in his race, with national record holder Anas clocking 21.15s to take silver while Punjab’s Lovepreet Singh claiming bronze with a time of 21.59s.
In the women’s race, VK Vismaya, who is better known for winning a relay gold in the women’s 400m at the Asian Games won over the shorter distance with a new personal best time. Vismaya clocked 23.80s to shave .10 off her previous best. She easily beat Karnataka’s NS Inchara who stopped the clock at 24.05s while Anjali Devi climbed the third step of the podium with a time of 24.35s.
Poovamma MR won the women’s 400 metres with a time of 53.73s, while Saritaben Gayakwad came in second, only 0.04s slower than the former. Jisna Mathew was third with a time of 54.17s.