Ranjith Maheswary, Jinson Johnson qualify for Olympics

Tuesday, Jul 12, 2016,11:50 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Bengaluru | Three track and field athletes, including veteran triple jumper Renjith Maheswary and middle distance runner Jinson Johnson, both from Kerala, booked Rio Olympics berths with national record breaking performances in the 4th Indian Grand Prix here Monday.

Maheswary and Dharambir Singh (200m) shattered national records while Jinson Johnson ran the second fastest ever 800m race by an Indian to better Rio qualification marks on a dramatic day at Sree Kanteerava Stadium.

27-year-old Haryana lad Dharambir clocked 20.45 secs that not only bettered the Rio qualification mark of 20.50 secs but also improved his own national mark of 20.66 secs set at the Asian Championships in China last year.

Dharambir will be the first Indian to run in an Olympics 200m race after 36 years. The last Indian to do so in an Olympics was Tamil Nadu’s Perumal Subramaniam in 1980 Games.

The men’s and women’s 4x400m relay teams are also certain to make the Rio cut as they both stood at the 13th spot after the end of European Championships in Amsterdam Sunday night. The top 16 relay teams qualify for Rio Olympics and Monday was the deadline for Rio Games qualification for athletics events.

International Association of Athletics Federations is expected to release a list of all qualified relay teams for Rio Olympics today.

With three more track and field making the Rio cut, the Indian track and field contingent will swell to 36 while the total number of Indian sportspersons for Rio Olympics will go up to 117.

It was a do-or-die for 30-year-old Kerala athlete Maheswary who was often criticised for landing with ‘no marks’ in two major events — World Championships in 2011 and 2012 Olympics — but yesterday he leaped to glory with a national record of 17.30m while also bettering Rio qualification mark of 16.85m. The earlier national record was in the name of Arpinder Singh (17.17m) set in 2014.

Maheswary, who will be participating in his third straight Olympic Games after 2008 and 2012, has been trying to qualify for Rio since last year. However, each time he was missing the mark narrowly. His last best jump of 16.98m was achieved in Chennai three years ago.

Monday, his third round jump of 16.93m did the trick and having achieved the qualification, Maheswary made a big leap of 17.30m that not only regained his national record back but also placed him third in the current world rankings behind Americans Christian Taylor (17.76) and Will Claye (17.65).