The wait continues. It is not exactly a surprise, for regular followers of Indian athletics, but the 27-member contingent will return without a medal from the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships. Anju Bobby George is still the only medallist for India at the event as yet another edition ended for India without a medal.

There were some encouraging performances, sure, but no one could match George’s feat from 2003.

In review, the 2019 edition in Doha was one of better performances for Indian athletes, especially in comparison the abysmal effort at London 2017.

India had three finalists – in mixed 4x400m relay, men’s 3000m steeplechase and women’s javelin throw.

The mixed 4x400m relay team and steeplechaser Avinash Sable qualified for Tokyo Olympics. While the relay team was expected to do well, Sable’s qualification came as a pleasant surprise. He also broke his own national record twice in three days.

Another credible performance was that of Annu Rani in javelin throw where she finished eighth in the final. She became the first Indian woman to qualify for javelin throw finals.

MP Jabir’s effort to reach the semi-final of the men’s 110m hurdles was another noticeable performance for India.

Apart from these, no other Indian performance looked to challenge the world field.

Most disappointing was the performances by men’s and women’s 4x400m relay teams who failed to reach the finals.

The women’s quartet of Jisna Mathew, MR Poovamma, VK Vismaya and Venkatesan Subha clocked 3 minutes 29.42 seconds to finish sixth in the heat number one and 11th overall in the first round heats.

The men’s team of Amoj Jacob, Muhammed Anas, K Suresh Jeevan and Noah Nirmal Tom ran 3:03.09 to finish seventh in heat number 2 and 13th overall out of 16 countries to crash out of the championships.

Javelin thrower Shivpal Singh failed to cross the 80m barrier in Doha while S Sreeshakar did not qualify for the finals of men’s long jump: both men had the chance to register better efforts, as their personal bests would have ensured a place in the finals.

India's at Worlds 2019 (Ordered day-by-day)

Athlete Discipline Timing/Mark Position
S Sreeshankar Men's long jump 7.62 m 12 in Group A, 22 overall (Qualifying)
MP Jabir Men's 400 m hurdles 49.62 secs
3 (Heats)
Dharun Ayyasmy Men's 400 m hurdles 50.55 secs 6 (Heats)
Dutee Chand Women's 100 m 11.48 secs 7 (Heats)
MP Jabir Men's 400 m hurdles 49.72 secs 5 (Semi-final)
India 4x400 m mixed relay 3 mins 16.14 secs 3 (Heats)
India 4x400 m mixed relay 3 mins 15.77 secs 7 (Final)
Annu Rani Women's javelin throw 62.43 m 3 (Qualification)
Archana Suseetran Women's 200 m 23. 65 secs 8 (Heats)
Anjali Devi Women's 400 m 52.33 secs 6 (Heats)
Avinash Sable 3000m steeplechase 8 mins 25.23 secs 7 (Heats)
Annu Rani Women's Javelin throw 61.12 m 7 (Finals)
PU Chitra Women's 1500 m 4 mins 11.10 secs 8 (Heats)
Tajinderpal Singh Toor Men's shot put 20.83 m 8 (Qualification)
JInson Jhonson Men's 1500 m 3 mins 39.86 secs 10 (Heats)
Avinash Sable 3000 m steeplechase 8 mins 21:37 secs 13 (Final)
Devender Singh Men's 20 km walk 1 hour 41 mins 48 secs 36 (Final)
KT Irfan Men;s 20 KM walk 1 hour 35 mins 21 secs 27 (Final)
Shivpal Singh Men's javelin throw 78.97 m 10 (Qualifying)
India Men's 4x400 m relay 3 mins 3.09 secs
7 (Heats)
India Women's 4x400 m relay 3 mins 29.42 secs 6 (Heats)
Gopi T Men's marathon 2 hour 15 mins 57 secs 21Finals)

The story of the tournament for India was Sable, undoubtedly. The Armyman on Saturday said he was focused on qualifying for the Tokyo Games, knowing fully well that a podium finish was out of question, after qualifying for the final in dramatic circumstances.

“I knew that it was going be really tough to win a medal or finish in top 5 or 6. So, I focused on qualifying for the Olympics. I came out for the race thinking to qualify for the Olympics,” he told PTI from Doha.

“I now have nine months with me before the Olympics and I can prepare very well for it and do well in Tokyo. That was the plan I and my coach (Amrish Kumar who is also in Doha) had made,” he added.

The 25-year-old from Mandwa village in Maharashtra clocked 8:21.37 seconds to breach the Olympics qualifying standard of 8:22.00. He had clocked 8:25.23 seconds during the first round heats on Tuesday, bettering his then national record of 8:28.94 seconds, which he achieved during the Federation Cup in March.

In fact, this was his fourth national record in just over 12 months. His first national record (8:29.80) was set in September last year during the National Open in Bhubaneswar while the second came in March this year during the Federation Cup in Patiala. During this period, he made an improvement of nearly eight-and-a-half seconds.

Avinash had made it to Friday’s finals in dramatic circumstances after he initially failed to make the cut through the heats on Tuesday. He was later included in the starting line up after the Athletics Federation of India successfully protested that he was obstructed by other athletes during the heat race.

(With PTI inputs)