Aiming for a Rio berth: Indian women’s relay team at qualifying event

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The clock is ticking for the Indian women’s relay team as far as booking a berth to Rio is concerned. Asian Games Gold Medallist Machettira Raju Poovamma is now leading the 4x400m relay team at the PTS Athletics Meetings at Samorin in Slovakia. The team will be running the track on Saturday, June 4 with their eye on the Rio qualification.

The five member team also includes Ashwini Akkunji  who is a double gold medallist in the 2010 Asian Games and member of the gold-medal winning relay team at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, apart from  Anilda Thomas, Jauna Murmu and Debashree Majumdar. The team was training at the  Olympics Training Centre in Spala for this particular event.

Also read: Dipa Karmakar becomes the first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for Olympics

Later in the month, on June 11-12, both the men and women’s 4x400m relay teams will participate in the second International Sprint and Relay at Erzurum (Turkey), according to Athletics Federation of India. The IAAF regulations state that only the top-16 teams will be able to participate in the relay events at Rio. Last year’s finalists from World Relays in Bahamas already have secured their entry, filling up the first eight spots. Those countries who clock the best average time will be placed in the 9-16 spots between January 1, 2015 and July 11, 2016.

Also read: A third time to the Olympics: Discus thrower Seema Punia books her Rio berth

Last year the women’s relay team’s fastest timing was  3:29.08sec at the IAAF World Championships in August. They have also had a great run at the Asian Games in 2014, where they won gold for a fourth successive time, and are also the reigning AG record-holder in the event. However, the last time our team reached the  Olympics finals was in 2004 under the training of current foreign coach Iuriy Ogorodnik. Hopefully the time has come to better that particular performance. The first hurdle though is the qualification. Watch this space for updates.

Feature Image Credit: NDTV Sports

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