33 years after PT Usha – Indian Navy's MP Jabir qualifies in 400m hurdles for Tokyo Olympics
The last time India had a representative in the 400m hurdles at the Olympics was way back in the 1988 Seoul Games
The last time India had a representative in the 400m hurdles in Athletics at the Olympics was way back in the 1988 Seoul Games when the legendary PT Usha finished a disappointing seventh in the heats with a timing of 59.55 seconds. This was a big blow to the Indians, who were expecting a podium finish from Usha after her fourth-place finish in the event during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
For years after the 1988 Games, no other Indian managed to qualify for the Olympics in the event. Breaking this jinx this time around is a young 25-year-old from Kerala, MP Jabir.
Madari Pillyalil Jabir qualified for the Men's 400m hurdles at the Tokyo Olympics via the World Rankings quota. The youngster was ranked 32nd in the rankings, wherein a total of 40 were to qualify.
Thanks to his consistent performances in the field, MP Jabir is employed with the Indian Navy. The youngster has won numerous laurels for the Navy and Services across different events.
Jabir is a two time Asian Championships bronze medallist in 400m hurdles and boasts of a personal best of 49.13 seconds, which he had set during the 2019 Asian Athletics Championships in Doha. This run had also helped in qualify for the 2019 World Athletics Championships in the same city, wherein he finished fifth in the semifinals to crash out of the tournament.
That run in the semifinals was the last competitive run for Jabir, and he returned to the field after a gap of almost two years in 2021. His season-best timing stands at 49.78 seconds, which he recorded during the 60th Inter-State National Athletics Championships last week.
Besides being the first Indian to qualify for the 400m hurdles in Olympics in almost 33 years, Jabir is also the first Indian male to qualify for the Olympics in the event in 57 years!
MP Jabir is the fourth Indian man to qualify for the 400m hurdles at the Olympics. The first Indian male to compete in 400m hurdles at the Olympics was S. Abdul Hamid during the 1928 Amsterdam Games. He was followed by Jagdev Singh in the 1956 Melbourne Games and by Amrit Pal in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.