On Saturday, India’s mixed relay team finished third in their heat to qualify for the finals of the 4x400m mixed relay event at the World Athletics Championship in Doha, registering their season-best timing. The final will be held on Monday at 1:05 am. The result means that the mixed relay team have sealed a direct entry to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The Indian team, comprising of Muhammad Anas, VK Vismaya, Nirmal Noah Tom and Jisna Mathew, clocked a timing of 3:16.14. The timing saw them finish third in their heat, behind Poland and Brazil.
India’s time was the seventh-best overall on the day. USA, of course, coasted to a world record time early on in the first heat with a timing of 3:12.42. Anas ran a decent first lap but it was the second lap that saw Vismaya race ahead of everyone. A small hiccup in the baton handover between Jisna Mathew, who ran the third lap, and Nirmal Noah Tom, who ran the final lap. But Tom still managed to finish in the third spot in a race that was tightly contested.
The Indian mixed relay team had hogged the limelight when it bagged the silver medal at the Asian Championships in Doha clocking a timing of 3:16.47 — a timing that ranked 5th among all countries in this year’s list behind Poland, Bahrain, USA and Italy.
However, the team at the World Championships was quite different from the one that ran at the Asian meet. The absences of star quarter-miler Hima Das and relay regular Arokia Rajiv threatened to hurt India’s chances of making it to the finals, and to Tokyo.
Previously, the Athletics Federation of India had stopped national record holder Muhammed Anas from participating in the individual 400m so as to boost the relay team’s chances of making the finals. Anas, on his part, had breached the qualification mark for the individual event. Still, there was some apprehension over the team's performance. In hindsight, though, the move seems to have worked out pretty well.