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Posted at: Mar 9, 2018, 2:02 AM; last updated: Mar 9, 2018, 2:02 AM (IST)

AFI on 4x400 drive to prepare for big events

Vinayak Padmadeo

Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 8

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has decided to help the national relay teams get more international exposure, with a special focus on the 4x400m teams.

This is a break from tradition as AFI used select the relay teams just ahead of major competitions, including the Olympic Games. While they would train together at the national camps, the teams invariably faltered at the world stage.

The Indian women’s 4x400m team of Jisna Mathew, MR Poovamma, Anilda Thomas and Nirmala Sheoran was disqualified at last year’s World Championships due to lane infringement. Jisna, who ran the first leg of the race, had made the error.

A year earlier, the men’s 4x400 team had suffered a similar fate during the 2016 Rio Olympics. The team comprising Kunhu Mohammed, Muhammad Anas, Arokia Rajiv and Dharun Ayyaswamy was disqualified for wrongful change of baton from Ayyaswamy to Rajiv.

With an eye on the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Game, AFI wants to give the relay teams more preparation and exposure trips so that they get it right before the Games.

“We will give them more exposure in competitions so that they get enough exposure as a team,” AFI secretary general CK Valson told The Tribune on Thursday. “Earlier, we would simply field them for the Asian Games and other games. But that is not sufficient and we need to field them in more competitions so that they have more experience in running and have a better feel when they go to the toughest competitions,” he added.

Valson conceded that the disqualification of the relay teams in major competitions was a factor behind AFI’s decision.

“That is also one reason, yes,” he said. “They need to get more used to baton exchange when there is a tight situation, or when there are good runners around. So we want to give them more experience.”

He added the exposure trips will be planned after the Commonwealth Games. “We are really focussing on the 2020 Olympic Games,” Valson said. “We have good athletes, plus there are a few junior athletes to... So hopefully, they will be able to do well in 2020 if everything goes well.”

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