Veteran discus thrower Seema Punia on Tuesday qualified for Tokyo Olympics with a best effort of 63.70m while winning gold on the final day of the National Inter-State Athletics Championships in Patiala.
She became the 12th individual Indian athlete to qualify for Tokyo, as per Athletics Federation of India. Having reached Patiala from Belarus in the wee hours of June 27, the 37-year-old went past the 60m mark on four of her five legal throws, going close to the Olympic Qualifying mark of 63.50m with her third effort of 63.18m. That was a new meet record before she found the power to breach the Olympic standard with her fourth try. These were her first throws of over 63m since August 7, 2004 in Kiev.
The 37-year-old Punia had won a silver in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and a bronze in the 2018 Asian Games and will be taking part in her fourth Olympics after the 2004, 2012 and 2016 editions of the Games.
Without a world ranking since she was nursing a glutes injury, Punia was taking part in only her third competition since the 2018 Asian Games. She threw 62.64m in the Federation Cup here in March and after managing 58.62 in Minsk on June 25, she secured her ticket on the final possible occasion of the qualification window that shuts tonight.
Punia will be the second Indian woman to take part in the event in the Tokyo Olympics after national record holder Kamalpreet Kaur, who threw the iron disc to a distance of 66.59m in the Indian Grand Prix 4 on Monday last. She had achieved the qualification mark earlier at Federation Cup in March.
Kaur did not start in the event on Tuesday, though her name was there initially.
There was, however, disappointment for the women’s 4x100m relay team. Running with a changed combination after Hima Das had to sit out due to an injury, the squad of AK Daneshwari, Archana Suseendran, S Dhanalakshmi and Dutee Chand set a new meet record time of 44.15 seconds, but fell short of its target (43.03 seconds) that would have earned a berth in the Olympic Games.
Hima Das, now out of contention for a spot in Tokyo, then tried to compete in the women’s 200m final, chasing 22.80 seconds to qualify, but finished fifth in 25.03 seconds. PD Anjali (Kerala) and Lovepreet Singh (Punjab) were the winners of the women’s and men’s 200m sprints in 24.01 seconds and 21.04 seconds respectively.
Besides the 4x400m mixed relay squad, Avinash Sable (men’s 3000m Steeplechase), Tajinderpal Singh Toor (men’s Shot Put), Neeraj Chopra and Shivpal Singh (men’s Javelin Throw), M Sreeshankar (men’s Long Jump), Kamalpreet Kaur (women’s Discus Throw) and race walkers KT Irfan, Sandeep Kumar and Rahul Rohila (men) and Bhawna Jat and Priyanka Goswami (women) have already qualified for the Olympic Games.
There is expectation that some others like MP Jabir (men’s 400m Hurdles), Dutee Chand (women’s 200m), Annu Rani (women’s Javelin Throw) will make it on the strength of their world ranking. Besides if the men and women’s relay teams, ranked 13 and 16 on the Road to Olympic Games list at the time of writing, may raise the size of the Indian athletics team.
With World Athletics responding positively to the Athletics Federation of India request to consider the 3:01.89 clocked in the 4x400m heats on Friday, the men’s team was restored to the 13th place ahead of Germany, Poland and Czech Republic. It let the men’s team to rest Amoj Jacob for their final.
The results (finals):
200m: 1. Lovepreet Singh (Punjab) 21.04 seconds; 2. Kaliga Kumarage (Sri Lanka) 21.13; 3. B Nithin (Tamil Nadu) 21.20.
4x400m Relay: 1. India (MP Jabir, Arokia Rajiv, Muhammed Anas Yahiya and Noah Nirmal Tom) 3:05.22 (New Meet Record. Old: 3:09.29, Kerala, 2006); 2. Punjab 3:09.84; 3. Haryana 3:13.02.
3000m Steeplechase: 1. Shankar Lal Swami (Haryana) 8:46.36; 2. Vikram Singh (Madhya Pradesh) 9:15.53; Md Nur Hasan (Uttar Pradesh) 9:17.96.
Javelin Throw: 1. Rohit Yadav (Uttar Pradesh) 77.74m; 2. Shivpal Singh (Uttar Pradesh) 77.31, 3. Sumedha Ranasinghe (Sri Lanka) 77.28.
200m: 1. PD Anjali (Kerala) 24.01 seconds; 2. BIM Jayamane (Sri Lanka) 24.08; 3. Harika Devi Antaram (Telangana) 24.64.
1500m: 1. Harmilan Bain (Punjab) 4:15.52; 2. Chand (Delhi) 4:18.96; 3. PU Chitra (Kerala) 4:20.29
4x100m Relay: 1. India (AK Daneshwari, Archana Suseendran, S Dhanalakshmi and Dutee Chand) 44.15 seconds (New Meet Record. Old: 45.69, Tamil Nadu, Lucknow 2019); 2. Sri Lanka 44.55, 3. Telangana 45.91.
4x400m Relay: 1. India (Subha Venkatesan, Jisna Mathew, Kiran Pahal and Veeramani Revathi) 3:38.46; 2. India Mix B 3:47.16; 3. Punjab 3:54.77.
3000m Steeplechase: 1. Parul Chaudhary (Uttar Pradesh) 10:01.58; 2. Komal Chandrakant Jagdale (Maharashtra) 10:10.31; 3. Nilani Rathnayake (Sri Lanka) 10:12.02.
Discus Throw: 1. Seema Antil (Uttar Pradesh) 63.72m (New Meet Record. Old: 62.49m, Neelam J Singh Chennai, 2000); 2. Sonal Goyal (Delhi) 49.50; 3. Madhu Renu (Rajasthan) 47.55.
With PTI inputs
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