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Seema Punia books ticket to Tokyo Games

Last updated on: June 30, 2021 00:34 IST
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Hima set to miss Tokyo Games

Seema Punia had also played at the 2016 Rio Olympics where she finished a disappointing 20th 

IMAGE: Seema Punia had also played at the 2016 Rio Olympics where she finished a disappointing 20th, failing to qualify for the final round. Photograph: PTI

Veteran discus thrower Seema Punia on Tuesday qualified for the Tokyo Olympics with a gold wining effort of 63.72m on the final day of the National Inter-State Athletics Championships in Patiala.

The 37-year-old Punia, who had won a silver in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and a bronze in the 2018 Asian Games, breached the Olympic qualifying mark of 63.50m.

She became the 12th individual Indian athlete to qualify for the Tokyo Games.

Punia had reached Patiala from Minsk, where she had taken part in Belarus Open Championship last week, in the wee hours on Sunday.

She went past the 60m mark on four of her five legal throws and found the power to breach the Olympic qualifying mark in her fourth try.

 

She 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 (muscles of buttocks) 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 to Tokyo Games with her first throws of over 63m since August 2004 in Kiev.

"I know I can throw farther with my training but I was wary of aggravating the issue with my glutes muscles. I have worked hard over the last two and half years since the Asian Games and am happy that I could secure qualification today," Punia said.

"I will consult the Athletics Federation of India and draw up my training programme for the Olympic Games," she added.

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.

Kaur did not start in the event on Tuesday, though her name was there initially.

Star sprinter Hima Das, who sustained a hamstring injury on Saturday while running 100m heats is set to miss the Tokyo Olympics as the women's 4x100m of which she was a part earlier clocked 44.15 seconds, well outside the targeted time of 43.03 seconds.

Hima also tried to compete in the women's 200m final, chasing 22.80 seconds to qualify for Olympics, 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), Tajinder Pal 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 20km race walkers KT Irfan, Sandeep Kumar and Rahul Rohila (men) and Bhawna Jat and Priyanka Goswami (women) have already qualified for the Olympics.

There is expectation that some others like MP Jabir (men's 400m hurdles), Dutee Chand (women's 100m and 200m), Annu Rani (women's javelin throw) will make it to Olympics on the basis of their world ranking.

Moreover, the men's and women's relay teams, currently ranked 13th and 16th on the Road to Tokyo list, may raise the size of the Indian athletics team.

Tuesday midnight is the deadline of the Olympics qualification period and the World Athletics will publish the list of qualified athletes for the Tokyo Games on Thursday.

The AFI's selection committee will meet on Saturday to pick the Indian team for the Olympics.      

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's 13th place was restored ahead of Germany, Poland and Czech Republic.

Running with a changed combination after Hima Das pulled out, the Indian women's 4x100m relay quartet of AK Daneshwari, Archana Suseendran, S Dhanalakshmi and Dutee Chand a time of 44.15 seconds which was a meet record but well short of its target (43.03 seconds) that could have earned the team a berth in the Olympic Games.

Neeraj pulls out of Switzerland event, takes break post hectic schedule

Star Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra on Tuesday pulled out of a top-level competition in Switzerland, owing to fatigue.

Chopra was to compete in the Spitzen Leichtathletik event in Lucerne, a World Athletics continental tour silver-level competition where the likes of Olympics gold medal favourite Johannes Vetter of Germany and some other top javelin throwers are taking part.

Chopra had taken part in three events -- in Portugal, Sweden and Finland -- since June 10 and this competition in Lucerne would have been his fourth in nearly three weeks.

It is learnt that Chopra's pull-out was a precautionary measure to give his body enough time to rest after a lot of travel even though he had entered his name for the top-class competition.

He is being accompanied by bio-mechanics expert Dr Klaus Bartonietz and physiotherapist Isaan Marwaha.

The 23-year-old will now proceed to Upsala in Sweden for training and his is expected to take part in the Gateshead (England) Diamond League on July 13. That would be Chopra's biggest event before the Olympics, which opens on July 23.  

Besides Vetter, the likes of Andreas Hofmann (Germany), Keshorn Walcott (Trinidad and Tobago) and Bernhard Seifert (Germany), who all are above Chopra in the Road to Tokyo list, were lined up for the event.

Chopra had won bronze in Kuortane Games in Finland on Saturday last with an effort of 86.79m, behind season-leader and 2017 world champion Vetter (93.59m) and 2012 Olympics gold medallist and 2016 Games bronze winner Walcott (89.12m).

That was Chopra's third best performance this season since re-writing his own national record during the Indian Grand Prix 3 with a throw of 88.07m in March at the NIS Patiala. A few days later, he had thrown 87.80m during the Federation Cup at the same venue.

In his previous two competitions in Europe, Chopra had come up with a best effort of 83.18m to win an event in Lisbon, Portugal on June 10 before having a below-par performance of 80.96m at the Karlstad Grand Prix in Sweden on June 22.

The 23-year-old reigning Asian and Commonwealth Games champion had qualified for Tokyo Olympics in January last year in South Africa.

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