She’s just 18 and the fastest quartermiler in the country this year, but Priya H. Mohan won’t be on the 4x400m mixed relay team at this month’s Tokyo Olympics.
Priya shocked all the national campers, including stars like MR Poovamma, VK Vismaya and Jisna Mathew, by winning the women’s 400m at the recent Interstate Nationals in Patiala.
Struck down by injuries and unable to travel overseas for competitions, the national campers were in bad shape this season and the women’s mile relay team failed to even qualify for Tokyo.
The Indian Athletics Federation (AFI) is now racking its brains to put together a decent squad for the mixed relay for which India qualified for Tokyo after the 2019 Doha Worlds after finishing seventh.
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But AFI has decided to stick to its position that only national campers will be in the relay team.
“What is the published rule of the AFI?” On the basis of which AFI won a Supreme Court case … ”said AFI President Adille Sumariwalla on Saturday when asked if non-campers like Priya would be chosen for the relay team.
After learning bitter lessons after India lost its gold medal in the 4x400m relay to Asians in Bhubaneswar 2017 after 400m champion Nirmala Sheoran failed doping tests in 2018 (her four-year suspension was backdated), AFI proposed a ‘strict campers only for international relays’ policy a few years ago.
AFI plans to conduct trials at Patiala in a day or two to finalize the relay team for Tokyo. “Maybe internal testing … for fitness,” said the AFI chief.
Meanwhile, the secretary of the Karnataka Athletics Association, A. Raja Velu, confirmed that Priya reached Bengaluru after the national championships.
“The relay is a team event and training in the exchange of sticks is very important so I don’t know what decision the selection committee will make. The federation had called her on several occasions for the national camp but she did not go, ”said Raja Velu.
“But I will send a letter (to AFI) today to look into his case. I’m going to have to fight for my athlete. “