What Indian sprinters need to do to qualify for Tokyo 2020

By Saurabh Shankar

At the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo, athletics will be one area India will be targeting to do well.

With top sprinters like Dutee Chand and Hima Das making huge strides in the right direction in the recent past, the hopes of the nation are expected to be high. These triumphs come at the right time as the athletes now prepare to tackle the qualification process for Tokyo 2020.

Hima Das, one of India’s biggest Olympic hopefuls

Dual Qualifying Possibilities

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has opted for two separate ways that a sprinter can make the cut for the Olympics.

●     An athlete can either qualify by virtue of his/her IAAF World Ranking for their particular discipline, or

●     An athlete can also book their ticket for the Olympics by achieving the entry standard times at any IAAF-recognised race.

A nation that does not have an athlete qualifying through either of the two above mentioned possibilities can nominate one representative to participate under the Universality Quota. Similarly, nations with an unqualified female or an unqualified male entrant can also put forth their participants.

The qualification period for sprinting events at Tokyo 2020 commenced on May 1, 2019, and will end on June 29, 2020. All athletes suitably ranked after this period will book their slots for the Olympics.

Entry Standard Requirement Time

The other method for a sprinter to qualify is by clocking the entry standard qualifying time at any IAAF-recognised race during the qualification period. The idea of introducing such a concept is to reward exceptional performances and ensure quality athletes don’t miss out due to a few sub-par races.

The attachment here shows the entry standard requirement times necessary for athletes to qualify automatically for Tokyo 2020:

India’s Hopes

Muhammad Anas Yahiya at the 2018 Commonwealth Games

Sprinting in an event that India is yet to win an Olympic medal in.

Despite some athletes coming close on a couple of occasions in the past, sprinting is yet to become as popular in India.

However, with a new breed of young racers like Dutee Chand, Hima Das, and Muhammed Anas, the Indian fans are hoping for a change in fortunes for track and field events.

Hima Das, the sprinter from Assam, remains a prospect for India as her 400m record of 50.79s falls within the entry requirement standard and if she could replicate such a performance in the coming year, a ticket to Tokyo would all but be guaranteed. She is also currently ranked 78th in the IAAF World Rankings for 400m, and a few good IAAF races in the coming year could see her qualify on the virtue of rankings as well with 48 slots up for grabs for the 400m Women’s race at Tokyo 2020.

While Das has the potential to make the Olympic grade, she is yet to clock the requirement time in any of her races in 2019 and will need improvements if she is to achieve the necessary rank to qualify for the Summer Olympics.

Another of India’s ace runners, Muhammed Anas Yahiya, also finds himself in good stead to qualify via the rankings as he is currently in 33rd spot for the 400m category. Apart from these two, the Indian faithful would also be keeping a keen eye of sprinters like Dutee Chand, Jinson Johnson and Amiya Mallick as the road to Tokyo 2020 intensifies.