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Nirmala qualifies for Rio Olympics

Nirmala qualifies for Rio Olympics
Highlights

Indian quarter-miler Nirmala Sheoran made the cut for next month\'s Rio Olympics after clocking 51.48 secs in 400m at the National Inter-State Senior Athletics championships here on Friday. 

Hyderabad: Indian quarter-miler Nirmala Sheoran made the cut for next month's Rio Olympics after clocking 51.48 secs in 400m at the National Inter-State Senior Athletics championships here on Friday. Nirmala had revealed her Rio ambitions when she improved her previous best by a huge margin clocking 52.35 secs during Thursday’s 400m heats at GMC Balayogi Stadium.

The Haryana quarter-miler on Friday ran the race of her life as she led right from start to finish and recorded a personal best of 51.48 secs, a time that put her on the Rio bus and erased the previous meet mark of 51.73 secs held by M R Poovamma since 2014. Nirmala became the 24th track and field athlete from India to qualify for the Rio Olympics after she surpassed the Olympic qualification mark of 52.20 secs.

Friday's time put Nirmala fourth in the Indian all-time rankings behind Manjeet Kaur (51.04s, 2004), K M Beenamol (51.21s, 2000) and Chitra K Soman (51.30s, 2004). PT Usha's trainee Jisna Mathew (53.14 secs) and Tamil Nadu's P N Souwndharya (53.85s) took the other medals of the day. Reacting on Nirmala's time, Usha said: “the race was really good and it would be great if she maintained her performance in the upcoming meets as well.”

In discus throw, Punjab thrower Kirpal Singh Batth obliterated the 16-year-old meet record by hurling the disc to 59.74m. The previous mark was held by Anil Kumar (59.74m) since 2000. It was indeed a big improvement for Kirpal, who had bagged a bronze last year, to win the gold this time. Defending champion Navjeet Kaur Dhillon retained the gold in women's discus throw with 55.07m.

Chandigarh boy Pankaj Malik romped home in the men's 400m gold in 47.40 secs. Hurdler Jithin Paul from Kerala, who was expected to qualify in men's 400m hurdles on Friday could not make it. Having clocked a personal best of 49.79 secs earlier this month in Samorin, Slovakia, the QM of 49.40 secs looked well within his reach. However Jithin was a bit slower in the initial stages of the final and clocked only 50.41 secs.

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