Athletics: It’s now-or-never for Hima Das and Dutee Chand before Tokyo Olympics!

The two meets scheduled later this month by the Athletics Federation of India will be the last chance for athletes like Dutee Chand and Hima Das to secure a place in the Tokyo Olympics.

Athletics: It’s now-or-never for Hima Das and Dutee Chand before Tokyo Olympics!
The two upcoming tournaments will be the last chance for these two athletes to qualify for Tokyo. (Photo credit: PTI/ AFP)

A fourth series of the Indian Grand Prix will be held on June 21 in Patiala, where all eyes will be on a select few athletes who will look to qualify for the Olympics that will begin in a month from then. The decision to conduct the GP was taken after the Athletics Federation of India’s efforts to send a 40-member team for meets in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan was unsuccessful because of ‘changed quarantine rules’ in those nations.

The AFI said, “AFI took this decision to provide additional competition to Indian athletes as the 40-member team will not be participating in the T Kolpakova International Competition in Bishkek and the Qosanov Memorial in Almaty later this month given the changed quarantine rules in those countries.”

Adille Sumariwalla, the federation president told PTI, “Given that, AFI decided to drop the plan of sending the team as it did not make sense to have the athletes go through 14-day quarantine in either location for the June 12 and 13 and June 19 and 20 events.”

He said that the federation does not want to impact the athletes’ training schedule by quarantining them with six weeks left for the Games. The federation would now focus on giving them the competitive experience at the Indian Grand Prix and National Inter-state Championships from 25th-29th June in Patiala, Sumariwalla said.

400m, 1500m, triple and long jump, shot put, javelin throw and 400m hurdles for men and 100m, 200m, 400m, 1500m, 5000m, javelin and discus throw and 4x100m relay for women will be held at the GP.

Qualification scenario for Indian athletes- Dutee Chand and Hima Das

Although there are still vacancies for several countries to fill in, the time limit is really less. The athletes will get just two competitions to clock the required timing in these events and seal a berth for themselves in the Tokyo Games.

Dutee Chand (100m)

World Ranking

Best timing

Season’s best

Required qualification timing

42

11.22 

11.44

11.15

Hima Das (200m)

World Ranking

Best timing

Season’s best

Required qualification timing

135

23.1

23.21

22.8

Das had also clocked 11.63 seconds at the 100m event in March this year.

Going by the two athletes’ timings, it will still need a lot of effort for them to clock the required time in the remaining two competitions and get a ticket to Tokyo. 

What do the coaches say?

Ramesh Nagapuri, Chand’s coach told TV9 Digital, “We are trying to improve the timing for now. Once she qualifies for the Games, we will go all-out training. This time, the World Athletics Federation rules say that either the athlete can clock the required timing, or they can maintain their ranking within 56.”

“If you look at Dutee’s history, she has clocked best timings when there is stiff competition and a good track. A champion has to be prepared for all weather conditions. Even if they faint in the heat, the competition would not come to a stop,” Nagapuri added. 

Shiba Mishra, coach of Hima Das, pointed out the dilemma that the athletes and the support staff are facing due to Covid-19. He also drew attention towards the facilities available to the Indian athletes and that to the foreign ones. He told TV9 Digital, “The US athletes use MONDO tracks whereas our athletes run on synthetic tracks. How can we compete with those athletes in these varying scenarios?”

He suggested that the central government as well as the Khelo India program must look into this and bring in similar facilities to give the Indian athletes a proper opportunity to compete on the big levels.

Thus, Hima Das and Dutee Chand have their task cut out, improving their timings and earning the much-wanted Olympic berth.

 

Also Read: China diplomacy or pandemic- what led to a fallout between Li Ning and IOA?

Tokyo 2020: IOA quashes reports of 10 nations, including India, getting barred