Indian Athletes Disappointed at Missing World Relays Due to Covid-19 Restrictions: Sprint coach

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The disappointment of missing next month’s World Relays due to new travel restrictions imposed on Indians due to surging Covid-19 cases in the country is palpable among the Indian athletes who would have competed, said sprint coach N Ramesh on Friday. “It’s a bad experience. We had a good chance to win a berth for the Tokyo Olympic Games as well as qualify for the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA,” Ramesh told IANS from Patiala. Since there was no direct flight from India to Poland, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) had to cancel the tour as there was no alternate route to reach the Polish city of Chorzow, the venue of the World Relays.

The national team, however, will get another opportunity in June. “There is an invitational meet in Kyrgyzstan. Depending on the situation prevailing at the time, it could be a good chance to make cut for the Olympics,” said Ramesh.

The AFI, depending on the situation, has also planned to organise the National Inter-State Athletics Championship in the third week of June in Bengaluru. The competition will be an Olympic qualification event.

The top sprinters gave ample display of their prowess during the Federation Cup in Patiala in March.

“Four leading sprinters are capable of clocking 100 metres dash below 11.50 seconds. That gave us reason to believe that our relay team has a good chance to make the cut for the Tokyo Olympics,” said Ramesh.

Individually, none of the top male or female sprinters have earned a quota place for the Olympics.

The Olympic qualifying time in the women’s 100m is 11.15 seconds while it’s 10.05 seconds for men. The qualification period ends on June 29.

Ace sprinter Dutee Chand, who has shifted to Patiala from Bhubaneswar for relay practice, will not immediately go back home, said Ramesh.

“At the moment it’s not advisable to travel as coronavirus cases are surging. When the local situation steadies she might go back to Bhubaneswar,” he said.

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