Asian champions Indian men's and women's 4x400m relay teams face a difficult task in their bid to qualify for the final round when they feature in the heats on the penultimate day of the competition at the World Athletics Championships here tomorrow.
India qualified for the championships as 11th ranked team in women's 4x400m relay based on the Asian Championships gold winning time of 3 minutes 31.34 seconds.
But at this global showpiece, it will be an uphill task for them to make it to the final round. India has been placed in heat number two along with defending champion Jamaica (season's best 3:28.32).
2015 edition silver winner United States (season's best 3:23.13) and bronze winner Great Britain (3:28.72) will fight it out in heat number one.
Each heat is made up of eight teams and first three in each of the two heats and the next two fastest from the remaining will qualify for the final round to be held on August 13.
For India, Anilda Thomas is expected to run the first lap, followed by seasoned M R Poovamma and young Jisna Mathew at second and third. 400m individual race participant Nirmala Sheoran will run the final lap.
"All the girls are fit and fine. They are hoping to do well and they are ready for the competition," deputy national chief coach Radhakrishnan Nair told PTI.
In the men's 4x400m relay race, India is ranked sixth in terms of season's best timings -- with Asian Championships gold winning time of 3 minute 2.92 seconds as best -- but it would still be difficult for them to qualify for the final though they are better placed than their female counterparts.
Not many relay races are run in a year with top athletes together and all the teams are expected to peak and produce their best in the World Championships.
Out of the 16 teams in the fray for heats tomorrow -- eight in each of the two heats -- India and four other teams have personal best team timings of above three minute and all the remaining 11 have sub-3 minute timings.
Luckily, the Indian quartet are placed in an easier heat number one along with Colombia, Bahamas, Cuba, Turkey, Poland, Jamaica and Spain.
In the other heat are defending champions United States, 2015 silver and bronze winners Trinidad and Tabago and Great Britain respectively, along with Japan, Belgium, France, Brazil and Botswana.
The Indian men's quartet is likely to be the same as fielded in Bhubaneswar -- Kunhu Muhammad, Amoj Jacob, Rajiv Arokia and individual 400m participant Muhammad Anas Yahiya.
In the Rio Olympics, the Indian men's 4x400m relay team was disqualified due to issues in the change of baton in the anchor leg and they will have to guard not to repeat such a blunder this time. In Rio, Ayyasamy Dharun was in the quartet but he is not in the team this time.
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