Nirmala of Haryana became the first athlete from the ongoing senior National inter-state athletics meet to reach the Rio Olympics qualifying mark, when she clocked 51.48 in the women’s 400m at the GMC Balayogi Stadium here on Saturday.
The 22-year-old, coached by Vijender Singh for the last six years, has not competed in any major event in the last few months, fully focussing on the event with the specific intent of qualifying for the Rio games.
The Olympics qualifying mark in the women’s 400 m is 52.20.
A delighted Nirmala later said she was really confident of making it, especially after her performance in the heats here, when she clocked 52.35.
Born into a farmer’s family of seven, Nirmala seemed to have been inspired by the presence of P.T. Usha, who attended the meet.
A visibly pleased Usha said, “She really ran well. The start was perfect and she was clearly leading right through.
“It was a terrific show and I am delighted that one more Indian athlete made it to the Olympics at Rio.”
Nirmala’s proud coach Vijender Singh said, “It is is the result of two years of real hard work and training.”
Meanwhile, secretary-general of Atheltics Federation of India C.K. Valson informed the media on the sidelines that the Indian athletes will have one more chance to qualify for the Rio Games as the AFI has decided to host the Indian Grand Prix in Bengaluru on July 10 and 11 (July 12 is the deadline for the athletes to meet the qualifying mark for Rio).
The results: Women: 400m: 1. Nirmala (Har) 51.48, 2. Jisna Mathew (Ker) 53.14, 3. P.N. Sowndharya (TN) 53.85; Discus: 1. Navjeet Kaur (Pun) 55.07m, 2. Sandeep Kumari (Har) 53.88, 3. Kamal Preet Kaur (Pjb) 50.02; Heptathlon: 1. K.D. Sindhu (Ker) 4441 pts, 2. Kanimozhi (TN) 4235, 3. Anila Jose (Ker) 4189.
4x100m relay: 1. Maharashtra (Akshaya Iyar, Bhagyashree Shirke, Shraddha Ghule, Rucha Patil) 47.26, 2. Karnataka (Apsana Begum, G.K. Vijaya Kumari, Prajna S. Prakash, Reena George) 47.57, 3. Tamil Nadu (Dhanalakshmi, Chandra Lekha, Arthi, Archana) 47.75.
Men: 400m: 1. Pankaj Malik (Chd) 47.40, 2. Noah Nirmal Tom (Ker) 47.47, 3. Nagaraj Kubudhav (Kar) 47.67.
Discus: 1. Kirpal Singh (Pun) 59.74m, 2. Baljinder Singh (Pun) 54.08, 2. Dharam Raj Yadav (UP) 53.64; High jump: 1. Ajay Kumar (Har) 2.17m, 2. Ritesh Kumar (UP) 2.17, 3. Jagdeep Singh (Pun) 2.17 (placings as per the less number of fouls committed by the athletes).
400m hurdles: 1. Jithin Paul (Ker) 50.41, 2. M.P. Jabir (Ker) 51.34, 3. Santhosh Kumar (TN) 51.71; Long jump: 1. Yugant Shekhar (UP) 7.74m, 2. Muhammed Anees (Guj) 7.64, 3. S.E. Shamsheer (Kar) 7.49.
4x100m relay: 1. Tamil Nadu (R. Swaminathan, Tamilvanan, M. Armugam, Muthu Kumaran) 40.72, 2. Kerala (D. Sreekanth, Yasin Ch Mohammed, Joseph Paul, John Anuroop) 41.12, 3. Manipur (Satnam Singh, G. Rahul Pillai, Jitesh Kumar, Shameermon Na) 41.35.