'We were focused on our best race'

The controversy over team selection was put behind as the Indian 4x400M relay team won the gold medal in commanding fashion on the final day of the 20th Asian Athletics Championships here.

“We were not bothered about any issues. We all focused on running our best race and we succeeded in that,” said M R Poovamma, the leader of the quartet. “Whatever be the team, we were ready for the competition,” she said.

The Athletics Federation of India had attempted to bring in Ashwini Akkunji into the team at the last minute but was rebuffed by the Technical Delegates.

The federation then summoned Tintu Luka to the team and she responded with a strong run. This is India’s first gold in the event since 2007. In Kobe, a scratch Indian team, including Tintu, O P Jaisha, Jhuma Khatun and K Mrudula had won the silver, thanks to a drugs disqualification of Kazakhstan and Iraq.

India have qualified for the World Championships but it remains to be seen whether the same four will go to Moscow next month. Going by AFI’s ways, the athletes could be in for more trials in the near-future.

Meanwhile, P T Usha felt Tintu needed more competitions to get into groove. “She didn’t run the correct pace today. A first lap of 59-plus isn’t to her advantage. She should have run a quicker lap. She needs more competitions to get the pacing right but unfortunately, we are not getting any,” rued Usha.

Jithin Thomas, who became the first Indian to win a high jump medal in the Asian Championships with a silver, was happy with his show. “But for the wet weather, I could have done better. When it rains, there is always a fear that you might slip and fall, ruining your career,” he said.

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