Ashwini Akkunji hoping to run first competitive race in World Championships
India qualified for the women's 4X400m relay in the August 10-18 World Championships after winning gold in the Asian Athletics Championships in Pune early this month. The quartet of M R Poovamma, Anu Mariam Jose, Tintu Luka and Nirmala had clocked 3:32.26s to bag the gold in Pune.
After serving a two-year ban for a dope offence, double Asian Games gold-medallist Ashwini Akkunji is hoping to run her first competitive race in next month's World Athletics Championships in Moscow.
Akkunji is taking part in the trials to be held in Patiala on Friday to pick India's 4x400m relay squad for the Moscow event.
Akkunji, whose ban period ended on July 3, said she has a slight niggle on one of her legs but will still run for tomorrow's selection trial at the NIS Patiala where she has been training.
"I still have slight niggle on my legs but I am running in the trials tomorrow," Akkunji told PTI from Patiala.
Asked if she is confident of making it to the six-member 4x400m squad, she said, "I can't say. This is my first competitive race though it is a selection trial. I have been training and I am fit except for this niggle.
"I will give my best and see what happens," said Akkunji who had won a gold each in women's 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou before she was caught for doping the next year.
India qualified for the women's 4X400m relay in the August 10-18 World Championships after winning gold in the Asian Athletics Championships in Pune early this month.
The quartet of M R Poovamma, Anu Mariam Jose, Tintu Luka and Nirmala had clocked 3:32.26s to bag the gold in Pune.
The Athletics Federation of India will pick a six member 4x400m relay squad with two as reserves on Saturday.
By that time, the selection committee, who will meet here on Saturday, will have the results of the trials in their hands. The selection committee, headed by Gurbachan Singh Randhawa, will also name the Indian team for the World Championships.
It will have to be seen if the AFI selection committee pick the Asian Championships gold-winning team and add another two as reserves or they tinker with the quartet also.
Luka's coach P T Usha said that she was given to understand by the AFI that her ward would be in the team for the World Championships also.
"As far as I understand, Luka will be in the 4x400m relay team. I have been told by the AFI officials like that. They said tomorrow's trials will be for the selection of two reserve runners," she said.
Meanwhile, Usha said that she has been looking towards some events in Europe for her ward to take part and qualify for 800m event in the World Championships. The deadline for qualifying in the World Championships is July 29.
"I am still looking for at least a competition in Europe for Luka so that she can try and qualify for 800m. I have sought help from the AFI to find a competition. I hope Luka can get a competition and qualify for World Championships," she said.
India is expected to name a big squad for the World Championships.
Besides the six member relay team, three are expected to take part in the men's 20km race walk with K T Irfan, Gurmeet Singh and Chandan Singh having already qualified with 'A' standard mark.
Amritsar schoolgirl Khushbir Kaur is also expected to make the cut having qualified with 'B' standard for women's 20km race walk.
Vikas Gowda (men's discus throw), Renjith Maheswary (men's triple jump) and Sudha Singh (women's 3000m steeplechase) have also qualified for the World Championships.