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Tokyo Olympics: Who are the men in the 4x400m relay and what are their stories?

Indian 4x400m relay team will take the track at the Tokyo Olympics ranked 13th in the world

Tokyo Olympics: Who are the men in the 4x400m relay and what are their stories?

Naveed Mohammed

Updated: 6 Aug 2021 6:20 AM GMT

How did India's 4x400 men's relay team perform at the 2016 Rio Olympics? They did not get a legal time for the relay after the baton exchange between Ayyasamy Dharun, and Rajiv Arokia was deemed illegal and subsequently disqualified.

After such an anti-climactic ending to the race, the men's 4x400 relay team would like to brush off the past misses and deliver on the biggest stage in Tokyo.

The Indian 400m relay team of Muhammed Anas, Rajiv Arokia, Noah Nirmal Tom, and Amoj Jacob went 03:01.89s at the Interstate Athletics meet in Patiala. This meant that India had secured the ticket to Tokyo as it took them to 13th rank in the world and only the top 16 4x400 relay teams in the world battle it out in two heats. Let's take a look at our boys and their stories.

Muhammed Anas Yahiya

At the age of 26, Muhammed Anas can already be considered a veteran of the 400m. He is the National record holder in 400m with a 45.21s set at the Kladno Athletics Meet in the Czech Republic.

Anas represented India at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the 400m and 4x400m relay; however, he couldn't make it past the first round in both events. Anas and his brother Mohammed Anees preferred walking to School even though their Parents could afford transportation. Maybe his legs knew something we didn't.

A local coach named Ansar saw the potential in Anas, and later, Anas joined his sports club, which laid the foundation for a superstar. Anas started to make his name in the local sporting circles after he won the long jump event at his School; unfortunately, at the same time, his father, who was working in Saudia Arabia, passed away.

Anas's Mother, Sheena, recalls the difficult times they had to go through after her husband's death. After coaching under P.B Jayakumar, an elite coach at the Kerala State Sports Council, Anas is yet to look back as he keeps reaching milestones in Indian Athletics.

Arokia Rajiv

Arokia Rajiv is the only other repeat athlete for the Indian 4x400 relay team from the 2016 Rio Olympics except for Muhammed Anas. From borrowing spikes from a friend to race to representing India at the Olympics, Rajiv is as humble as it gets. Rajiv, the son of a Lorry driver, born in a village outside Tiruchirappalli, is an Arjuna awardee.

He had decided to pursue Athletics at the very young age of 13 after being motivated by his Aunt's comment that Indians are only good at eating after the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Rajiv, a Junior Commission Officer in the Indian Army, has a personal best time of 45.37s. He won gold in the 4x400 mixed relay and a silver in the 4x400 men's relay at the 2018 Asian Games along with Anas.

Amoj Jacob

At the age of 23, Amoj Jacob is the youngest amongst the Indian 4x400 relay team. As India's 400m future, Amoj has set high standards for himself. He wants to break the 45s barrier and break the National record set by his counterpart Muhammed Anas. "I'm the youngest of the lot, and Anas is like my elder brother, he guides me with technique and everything. The rivalry is only on the track."

Amoj told The Hindu in an interview about his relationship with Anas. He has a personal best of 45.68s set at the Federation Cup in Patiala. Amoj studied at the SGTB Khalsa College, Delhi. He was also part of the Asian gold-winning 4x400m men's relay team.

Noah Nirmal Tom

The final piece of the starting four for the Indian 4x400 men's relay team, Noah Niraml Tom, was born in Calicut, Kerala. Tom is a crucial part of the relay team with a personal best of 45.75s over the 400m. Tom is an avid Chelsea fan and his favourite moment, like most of the Blues fans, is when Chelsea defeated Barcelona in the 2012 Champions League.

When Tom enrolled himself at the Sports Authority of India's (SAI) sports facility in Kozhikode, he met Coach George P Joseph. The latter suggested pursuing 400m as it suited him the best. Noah finds inspiration in Anas to up his game, stating if Anas can do it, why not me? The bond these men share is visible on track and the accolades they have achieved till now.

Naganathan Pandi

Naganathan Pandi

Naganathan Pandi's rise to stardom is one for the movies. Naganathan hails from Tamilnadu in a low-income family of six. His father was a farmhand, and his mother a domestic help. It was challenging to run a family of eight, and as a result, Naganathan worked as a construction labourer on the weekends.

He ran races barefoot until his School gifted him a pair of shoes for the district Sports meet. Pandi got a degree in History as he could afford the fee for Engineering. He became an Armed Forces Constable through the Sports quota. A personal best of 46.09s in 400m at the Federation Cup in Patiala booked his spot on the Indian 4x400 men's relay squad.

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