Tajender Pal Singh Toor primed to meet Olympics standard at IGP4

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Express News Service

CHENNAI: Indian athletes are approaching the home stretch in their quest for that Olympic berth. 

The last two competitions before the June 29 deadline for qualification are all set to give a handful of athletes their final chances to qualify. 

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The Indian Grand Prix will be the first such meet. It will be limited to a few athletes, especially those in the national camp at the National Centre of Excellence in Patiala.

Among the several eying qualification is Tajender Pal Singh Toor, the shot-put national record holder. 

The strong man from Punjab had a sedate start to the season after nursing an injury in his throwing left hand until mid-January. 

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After gingerly making his return to training, he started practicing with more intensity as time passed by until the Indian Grand Prix 2 (February) where he first entered into competition. 

Back then, according to Tajinder and his team, it was just about working on his strength and conditioning till the Federation Cup in March before going all out for that elusive 21.10m qualification mark.

“Initially, it was not easy as I was making a comeback from injury but as days passed by, I started getting fitter and throws were getting better,” said Tajinder. 

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Missing out on competitions during April-May, when the team was supposed to go to Turkey for meets-cum-training, did not help either. From No 29 on the list of Road to Tokyo in March he has slipped precariously to No 31 and is in danger of missing out.

Tajinder and his team are keeping a close watch on the list. He believes he is primed to throw above 21m and feels he should be qualifying through the mark. 

“I am not looking at ranking right now. In the next meet I am confident of doing well and cross the 21.10m mark,” he said. 

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Because of the heat, training has either been in the morning or after 6.00 pm. There are five people who will take part in shot put.

Long jumper Murali Shreeshankar and some of the other top athletes have reached Patiala some two-three days ago and were in quarantine. Negative RT-PCR tests are a must. 

For Shreeshankar, who has already qualified for the Olympics, this would be just another competition.

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“I am looking for a decent jump and with Olympics just a few days away, I will not exert myself too much,” he said.

All eyes will also be on javelin thrower Annu Rani, who is comfortably placed at No 19 in road to Tokyo but has not attained the qualification standard. In men’s javelin, Shivpal Singh is missing but Rohit Yadav’s name is entered. 

However, in women’s discus Seema Antil is missing.

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The women’s 4x100m relay, comprising the likes of Dutee Chand, Hima Das, Archana Suseendran and Dhanalaxmi, will also be looking to meet the Olympic standard. They are ranked 22 on Road to Tokyo list, top 16 qualify. 

The men’s 4x400m will also be aiming to remain at No 14 (current ranking) or improve. 

Interestingly, national record holder in 400m Mohammad Anas is not listed so is Ayyasamy Dharun in 400m hurdles.

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The women’s 4x400m is not part of IGP-4 but the 400m women’s entry list is interesting. Jisna Mathew is competing in her first meet of the season. 

Top quarter-milers VK Vismaya, MR Poovamma and Revathi V are also listed.

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