NEW DELHI: Olympic qualification marks eluded Indian middle distance runners once again on Wednesday. Competing in the BMC Gold Standard races at Watford, Chatholi Hamza, Sajeesh Joseph and Sinimole Paulose won their races, but they were off Beijing Games standards.

Not good enough

Hamza clocked 3:40.90 while winning the men’s 1,500m, with the second-placed Englishman Steve Davies far behind at 3:45.92, once again driving home the point that the Indian athletes were competing in meets not good enough to provide them tougher competition. Hamza was looking for a qualification time of 3:39.00. Hamza had clocked a 3:40.1 in an earlier meet at Watford.

Similar were the cases of Sajeesh and Sinimole. Sajeesh timed 1:48.25 as against the qualification standard of 1:47.00 while the man behind him, Tim Bayley clocked 1:49.23.

Sinimole, having failed to attain the norm so far in the 1,500m, ran the 800m and won comfortably in 2:03.87. She needs 2:01.30 to get an Olympic berth. Sinimole was not pushed at all as the second-placed Rachel Ogden came in 2:05.97.

The exception

So far, only woman distance runner Preeja Sreedharan (10,000m) has attained a qualification standard from among the middle and long distance runners who have been based in Newham, England, since May 30 on a training-cum-competition programme.

The Indian athletes are scheduled to compete in a meet in Stockholm, Sweden, on July 8 and another in Cork, Ireland, on July 12. The Olympic qualification deadline is July 23.

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