Top Indian sprinters miss Rio ticket in second outing

3 min

New Delhi (AFP)

Two top Indian sprinters missed their second chance to book an Olympic berth Thursday when they failed to meet the qualifying time, only three days after their first attempt was thwarted by a blackout.

Amiya Kumar Mallick and Srabani Nandaware suffered their first disappointment when a power cut at a New Delhi Grand Prix on Sunday meant their timings -- which met the Rio qualification time -- went unrecognised due to the use of hand-held clocks.

The duo then faltered in the Federation Cup at the same venue, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in the 100m men's and women's dash respectively to keep their Olympic qualification hopes hanging by a thread.

Mallick came fourth clocking 10.51 sec -- way below the Olympic qualification mark of 10.16 sec, Nandaware ran second by clocking 11.45 -- 0.13 sec away from the Rio cut off time.

"It's truly hard luck because I am putting my best foot forward," said a heartbroken Mallick, who had clocked an impressive 10.09 seconds on April 24.

"We had to fight on close dates, like on the 24th there was an event and a couple of days later we were back on the tracks so it's hard on the body.

"Today I also had to run three races in a single day," added Mallick, who secured a national record in the semi-final heats by clocking 10.26 seconds.

But Mallick, who had a training stint with Jamaican sprint king Usain Bolt in 2014, is still keeping his fingers crossed for booking a Rio berth.

"Still the target is Rio, because July 11 is the last qualification date. I am looking at some foreign tournaments, if my federation allows me to go over there," he said.

Nandaware, who apparently broke a 16-year-old national record on the fateful day of the blackout, kept her spirits high even after missing another chance.

"I felt good with my performance today, but I came second," Nandeware said after being out run by another ace sprinter Dutee Chand in the finals.

"The 11.23 timing in the previous event was my personal best, but unfortunately that could not be considered.

"I am still keeping my Rio dream alive as there are a couple of qualification events left till July 11," she added.

A one-day Grand Prix in the North Indian state of Punjab is slated on May 7, while the South Indian city of Hyderabad is scheduled to host an Inter-state event before the action shifts to foreign shores where a few Indian athletes are expected to perform.

"This is just the beginning of the season in India," Manish Kumar, chief operating officer of the Athletics Federation of India -- the official hosts along with with Delhi Athletics Association, told AFP.

"There will be many events lined up in Asia and Europe as well, for the athletes to try and book their Rio ticket."