Athletics: 4x400m mixed relay team chases last-gasp Paris qualification

India’s track and field athletes are gearing up for the Inter-State Athletics Championships at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Panchkula, which serves as the final qualification event for the Paris Olympics. The competition, set to begin on Thursday, is crucial for athletes looking to secure their spots before the June 30 cut-off date.

One of the main focuses will be on the mixed relay team (4x400m), which needs to deliver a strong performance to qualify for the Olympics. India is currently ranked 22nd in the Race-to-Paris rankings with a timing of 3:14.12 secs. To qualify, they must surpass 16th placed Kenya (3:11.88 secs) and hope that no other team overtakes them. The top 14 teams have already secured their spots through the World Athletics Relays in Bahamas.

Only two spots are available through rankings, with Italy currently holding the 15th spot with a timing of 3:10.69 secs. At the Asian Relay Championships in May, India’s 4x400m mixed team set a national record by clocking 3:14.12 secs to clinch the gold medal.

“We are capable of running 3:11.00 and that’s our target here. We’re optimistic about qualifying. Everyone in the relay team is eager for the race,” said team member Amoj Jacob.

The Athletics Federation of India has invited teams from Sri Lanka and Maldives to participate in the race, as it is a qualifying event for the Paris Olympics. AFI President Adille Sumariwalla expressed confidence in the team’s ability to qualify, stating that a time below 3:11.87 secs is achievable with a strong effort.

In addition to the mixed relay team, India’s men’s and women’s 4x400m relay teams have already secured their spots for the Olympics. A squad of 30 athletes is expected to compete in Paris, with some athletes needing a strong performance at the upcoming championships to qualify.

There are also some injury concerns among the athletes, with shot putter Tajinder Pal Singh Toor nursing an ankle injury and high hurdler Jyothi Yarraji recovering from a hip flexor problem. Despite these challenges, both athletes are in good standing in the rankings and will be looking to showcase their fitness at the event.

Key Athletes to Watch:
1. Jeswin Aldrin (Long Jump) – Currently ranked 32nd in the world, looking for a big jump to solidify his qualification spot.
2. Sarvesh Anil Kushare (High Jump) – Currently 36th in the rankings, aiming to qualify with a strong performance.
3. Tajinder Pal Singh Toor (Shot Put) – Ranked 25th, facing injury concerns but within the qualification cut-off.
4. Jyothi Yarraji (100m Hurdles) – Rebuilding after injury, close to meeting the qualification standard and looking to test her fitness at the championships.

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