Randhawa against sending men's team

The Indian women’s 4x400 relay team met the qualifying norm for the Wuhan Asian Athletics Championships even as questions persisted over the fate of the men’s 4x100 squad, with the chairman of the Athletics Federation of India’s selection committee terming their act on Wednesday as ‘shameful.’

The women’s quartet, comprising Debashree Majumdar, Anu Raghavan, Anju Thomas and M R Poovamma timed 3:35.19 at the morning trials in Patiala to duck under the standard of 3:36.09. The same four had faltered on Wednesday, with a botched baton exchange spoiling their plans.

Also on Wednesday, the men’s 4x100 team had attempted to meet the qualifying standard through fraudulent means. The foursome met the norm at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here, but only after fielding a runner from outside the chosen six.

Manikanda Arumugam ran the anchor leg when his name was not in the entries sent by the Athletics Federation of India to the Wuhan organisers. Later, the coaches tried to pass him off as Praveen Muthukumaran, before their bluff was called by the media.

A decision on their participation is expected on Friday but AFI’s selection committee chairman Gurbachan Singh Randhawa said he was completely against sending a team after what happened on Wednesday.

“I am totally against sending the 4x100 relay team to the Asian Championships. What they have done is shameful,” said the former Olympian.

Randhawa said he would blame the coach for the fiasco. “I wouldn’t blame the boys. They just did as the coach had instructed them to do,” said Randhawa, adding that he was yet to hear from AFI president Adille Sumariwalla on the matter.

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