Dutee’s landmark case, Rio berths for 15 high points of 2015
New Delhi : As many as 15 athletes qualifying for the Rio Olympics was the highlight of a year of mixed achievements for Indian athletics while off the track, young sprinter Dutee Chand won a landmark case against world body of the sport IAAF.
Indian athletics is yet to open its medal account in the Olympics but track and field contingent is set to be a sizeable one in the Rio Games next year with 15 having made the cut so far.
Ace discus thrower Vikas Gowda, the reigning Commonwealth Games and Asian champion, was among the latest three who qualified for Rio this month after the IAAF lowered the entry standards in order to achieve the target number of participants.
Gowda was struggling the whole year to reach the earlier entry standard of 66.00m but he benefited from IAAF’s recent decision to lower the qualification mark to 65.00m, which he had crossed in the Jamaican International Invitational Meet in May with a throw of 65.14m.
More qualifications are expected in the run-up to the Games and that will make the number of athletes in Indian contingent for Rio one of the biggest in recent years.
On the flipside, Indians came back without any worthwhile show in the World Athletics Championships in August in Beijing, except for the 3000m steeplechsaser Lalita Babar who finished a creditable eighth and also set a national record of 9:27.86.
The United States-based Gowda, in his fifth World Championships campaign, made it to his third final but ended up ninth with a poor throw of 63.84m, well below his season’s best of 65.14m and his own national record of 66.28m.
In other events, Asian champion Inderjeet Singh (men’s shot put) finished 11th and last in the final round while Tintu Luka (women’s 800m) failed to qualify for semifinals. She though got the consolation of crossing the Rio Olympics qualification time of 2:01.00, clocking her season’s best of 2:00.95 to finish seventh in the heats.
All the seven race walkers (Gurmeet Singh, Chandan Singh and Baljinder Singh in men’s 20km; Khushbir Kaur and Sapna in women’s 20km; Sandeep Kumar and Manish Singh Rawat in men’s 50km) who took part in the championships brought up the rear.
In the women’s marathon, O P Jaisha smashed her own national record with a timing of 2:34:43 to finish 18th with compatriot Sudha Singh just behind her.