India, K’stan protest, decision on Friday

India, K’stan protest, decision on Friday

MR Poovamma, Hima Das, Muhammed Anas and Arokia Rajiv (from left) of India celebrate after finishing second in the mixed 4x400M relay in Jakarta on Tuesday. Reuters

It was expected to be fun, and fun it was as the mixed 4x400m relay made its Asian Games debut on Tuesday. But a little later, the serious part kicked in, with India and Kazakhstan lodging protests against the victorious Bahrain team.

Bahrain’s second-leg runner Kemi Adekoya had to really stretch out to hand the baton to third-leg runner Salwa Naser within the exchange zone. In the process, she took a tumble, coming in the way of India’s third runner, Hima Das.

Hima had to change her course to avoid tripping over Adekoya, losing time and momentum in the process. Naser flew to a huge lead and India could not catch up. The Indian team’s protest said Adekoya had obstructed Hima’s progress, coming in the way of a possible gold for her team.

Kazakhstan, meanwhile, filed a protest stating that Bahrain athletes were not wearing same-coloured jerseys, violating the rules. A decision on both the protests from the jury of appeals is expected on Friday.

The race itself generated much interest, with the teams allowed to field the athletes in any combination. All the medal-winning teams opted to field their men athletes to run the lead-off leg and the anchor. Mohammed Anas, India’s first leg runner, said it was an enjoyable race.

“It was fun. Since we were running this event for the first time, we didn’t have much experience how to go about it. Next time we can do better, perhaps even compete in the World Relays (in Bahamas),” he said.

The anchor man, Arokia Rajiv, said he was left with too much ground to cover. “If the gap was smaller, I could have made up. But the Bahrain runner was about 30-40 metres ahead when I got the baton. There was little I could do.”