Indian athletics campaign ends in digrace,4x400 relay team fail to q

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Beijing, Aug 22 (UNI) The Indian challenge ended in the 29th Olympic games with their athletic campaign calling it a day in a disgraceful manner as the 4x400 women's relay team failed to qualify for the final with a below par timing of 3:28.83.

The Indians ended their assignments in the Games with three medals - a gold and two bronze.

The Indian showing in the track and field in these Games has been abysmal with nine athletes and the relay team failing to even equal or improve their own record and none of them made it to the next round.

The relay team comprising Geetha Satti, Manjeet Kaur, Chitra Soman and Mandeep Kaur were expected to save India the blushes in the competition but they also flopped.

India were in Heat I along with Poland, Russia, Britain, Germany, Cuba, Ukraine and Japan and finished seventh among the eight teams.

Heat II had Nigeria, Jamaica, France, Mexico, Belarus, USA, China and Brazil.

Overall, the Indians were placed 12th among the 16 teams while the top six teams - three from each heat and the two fastest losers qualifying.

The Indian team narrowly missed their season best timing of 3:28.29 but even that would not have helped them qualify as the last team to make it to the final was Germany who clocked 3:25.55 and sneaked in as one of the two fastest losers in the qualifiers.

Even the Indian national mark of 3:26.89 was not enough to qualify.

Geetha, who took off first from lane four never got past one or two runners in her lap and eventually came seventh and by the time she handed over the baton to Manjeet Kaur, the gap between the first runner and the Indian was so big that Punjab Police official came last in her lap and that obviously effected Chitra Soman, who perhaps ran best among the four.

Chitra at one staged came up to the fifth position but as she reached the home stretch, she fell back and ended seventh and it was too much to expect from the last runner who also ended last but one in her race.

''Actually, we expected to come to close or improve on our season's best,'' Chitra told mediapersons after the relay.

''I did my best, it was very crowded to start with but still I tried my best,'' she said adding that she along with Manjeet and Mandeep trained together while Geetha had trained separately.

Geetha Satti also said she gave her best,''I made an all out attempt. At least we tried our best.'' ''It was a much tougher field here, but we ran well, we did what could have done,'' she added.

The relay squad had qualified with a performance of 3:28.29 in the second leg of the Asian Grand Prix circuit in Korat, Thailand.

Eventually it managed to get in as the 15th best team in the world out of the 16 that qualified.

And that result proved correct here also.

Last time in Athens, the team had clocked a sensational 3:26.89, still a national record, in the heats before finishing seventh in the final.

Manager Kirpal Singh said the girls performed well. ''They have done their best and in this world class field, it was a good showing.'' ''We had expected that they will improve their season best but still they have come very near to it,It is good,'' he added.

United States (3:22.45), Jamaica (3:22.60), Belarus (3:22.78), Russia (3:23.71), Nigeria (3:24.10), Cuba (3:25.46) and fastest losers Britain (3:25.48) and Germany (3:25.55) made it to the finals all with their season's best timings.

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