Through the past seven months and more, Indian athletes have looked forward to just one target — an Olympic qualification standard.

Many had given up hope quite some time back; many others might have felt they still had a chance.

With just four days to go for qualification deadline to be over, most have accepted the inevitability of not being able to join the batch of 14 qualified athletes to London.

The Asian Games 400m hurdles champion Joseph Abraham, gave up his qualification chase on Tuesday, deciding against a last-minute dash to Colombo to compete in the Sri Lankan National championship in an effort to gain a norm.

A day after returning from Almaty where he failed to reach the standard of 49.80s in the Asian All-Star meet, clocking 50.22s, Abraham and 400m runner P. Kunhumohammed were contemplating a desperate attempt in Colombo.

“We decided against it,” said Abraham on Wednesday, on phone from Patiala. He was getting ready to pack up from the NIS. The others, mainly relay runners, had already left for home.

Takes the blame

The qualifying mark was well within the reach of Abraham, a hurdler who has four career marks below the norm, though the last one (49.59s) had come in Chennai three years ago. “I cannot blame anyone. I cannot attribute it to anything other than my own failure. I tried hard, but I wasn’t up to it,” said Abraham, disappointed a second time that he would not be going to the Olympics.

His best this season was the 49.98s he clocked in the Federation Cup at Patiala in April. He had failed to make it to Beijing four years ago by a hundredth of a second, clocking his career-best and National record of 49.51s in the semifinals of the 2007 World championships in Osaka as against the standard of 49.50s. “I am not destined to be an Olympian,” said Abraham.

Kunhumohammed had a best of 46.14s this season against the standard of 45.90s. He, like his colleagues in the 4x400m relay team had felt that the athletes were not given enough chances to make the grade.

Hopelessly placed at the end of the Asian Grand Prix series, the men’s 4x400 and the women’s 4x400 teams were not entered for the last qualification attempt in Almaty by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) thus ruling out their chances of figuring in the Olympics.

Incidentally, in the final list of qualified teams, released on Tuesday, the 16th place in women’s 4x400m relay (Turkey) went for 3:29.77 and in men’s longer relay (Poland) for 3:02.10. The top-16 teams in the world made it to London. India’s best this season were 3:07.82 and 3:36.82 in men and women’s relays respectively.

Still hopeful of qualification are middle distance runners Sajeesh Joseph and Sinimole Paulose, scheduled to compete in Europe the next few days.

The woman distance runners, Preeja Sreedharan and Kavita Raut, in Europe, are also expected to make one more attempt at qualification on Thursday.

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