Athletics

Baton exchanges need to be perfect: Dharun

A chance lost: The mixed team fumbled at the final baton exchange, losing precious moments, and settling for silver.

A chance lost: The mixed team fumbled at the final baton exchange, losing precious moments, and settling for silver.  

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The men’s and women’s teams finished without a medal in Doha

Give it, give it!

One could almost hear Arokia Rajiv yelling that as he waited for the baton from V.K. Vismaya to land in his hand in the 4x400m mixed team relay at the Asian athletics championships in Doha early this week.

There was a bit of a fumble, the final baton exchange was clumsy, precious moments were lost and in the end, India probably lost a chance to strike gold and had to finish with a silver.

“I think Arokia took off a bit early there. Your head should be very clear when you are delivering and receiving the baton in the exchange zone,” A. Dharun, a member of the Jakarta Asian Games silver-winning men’s mile relay team last year, told The Hindu.

The 4x400m relays are the Athletics Federation of India’s favourite events and the federation president Adille Sumariwalla feels that they could bring the country the elusive Olympic medal next year in Tokyo.

That is why the quartermilers enjoy long training sessions under the Russia-born American coach Galina Bukharina in countries like Turkey, Poland and the Czech Republic before the majors. They have now reached Japan, nearly two weeks early, for the World Relays which begin in Yokohama on May 11.

Much to be done

The 4x400m relay women won the Asiad gold while the men’s and mixed relays brought silver, but now, with the Olympics just about a year away, it is clear that there is much work to be done.

India finished without a medal in the men’s 4x400m relay in Doha as the team was disqualified after finishing second as the jury found that Muhammed Anas had impeded a Chinese runner during the third leg.

India had also missed a medal in the women’s 4x100m relay after another messy final exchange, between K. Ranga and Dutee Chand, who ran the anchor leg.

“If athletes have been training together for long, then the exchanges should be smooth but if the girls are coming together in the last 10 days or so, they cannot master the technique but definitely, we will take care of this issue,” said Chief National Coach Bahadur Singh.

Plenty of practice

Dharun revealed that the quartermilers had more than 10 exchange sessions before the Asians.

“Baton exchanges need to be perfect in the 4x100m relays as they are done at very high speed but they are not very tough in the 4x400m. I think we had more than 10 baton-exchange sessions in Patiala before Doha,” said Dharun, also the 400m hurdles national record holder who missed the Asians with an injury. “We had some 50m running and baton-passing sessions.”

Despite the absence of Hima Das, who suffered an injury in Doha, the women quartermilers, especially M.R. Poovamma and Vismaya, looked in good form in Doha.

The World Relays, from where the top eight men’s and women’s teams and the top 12 in mixed automatically qualify for this September’s World championships in Doha, will offer the Indians a major test.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 11:35:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/athletics/baton-exchanges-need-to-be-perfect-dharun/article26967995.ece

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