NEW DELHI: The Indian middle distance runners performed creditably in the BMC Gold races at Watford, outside London, on Wednesday, but they were still shy of the Olympic qualifying standards.

The men’s 800m runners, Sajeesh Joseph and Rajeev Ramesan, once again clocked below 1:48, but the target of 1:47.00 needed for at least one to make it to Beijing eluded them. Sajeesh timed 1:47.89 behind Australian Jeff Riseley (1:47.65) while Rajeev came third in 1:47.93.

Chatholi Hamza was beaten in the men’s 1,500m by teammate Ravinder Sharma who clocked 3:44.93. Pritam Bind claimed the second position in 3:44.99 with Hamza third at 3:46.21. The runners had to aim for 3:39.00.

Sinimole Paulose won the women’s 800m in 2:03.79 while Sushma Devi took the 1,500m in 4:22.51 with Preeja Sreedharan clocking 4:26.49 in third.

Tough conditions

According to information reaching here, the Indians were affected by the chilly weather and strong winds. Out of the middle and long distance runners now in England, under the supervision of Belarus coach Nikolai Snesarev, only Preeja has attained an Olympic qualifying norm, that in the 10,000m.

The Indian athletes are scheduled to compete in a meet in Solihull on June 28. Meanwhile, the Indian walkers who participated in the Royal Leamington Spa Grand Prix on June 15, failed to achieve the Olympic standards, according to delayed information.

Parayil S. Jalan had the best finish among the Indians, coming fifth in the 20km walk in 1:27:48. The Olympic qualification mark is 1:24:30. Harminder Singh, with a personal best of 1:29:15, and Chandan Singh 1:30:58 finished seventh and ninth. National record holder Babubhai Panucha did not finish.

In the 50km event, National record holder Basant Bahadur Rana timed 4:19:37 as against the qualification mark of 4:07.00 while coming ninth. Poland’s Artur Borozowski won in a personal best 3:52:09. The top eight cracked 4:07.

Time seems to have run out on the Indian walkers in attempting the standards. The individual qualification marks have to be achieved by July 23 and it is doubtful whether the walkers will get either a competition or enough recovery period by then to aim for better timings.

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