Akkunji set for World Athletics Championships

New Delhi: Double Asian Games gold-medallist Ashwini Akkunji looked set to make it to the Indian women`s 4x400m relay squad for next month`s World Championships in Moscow after she finished joint second in the trials held at Patiala today.

Five runners took part in the trials and Nirmala, who was the fourth member of the gold-winning Indian quartet in the Asian Athletics Championships in Pune early this month, was first in 54.60secs in the 400m trials while Akkunji and Anilda Thomas clocked 54.70secs each.
Saritha was fourth with 55.80secs, while Priyanka Mondal was fifth and last clocking 56.20secs in the trials conducted in the presence of 400m coach N Ramesh and Athletics Federation of India officials at the NIS Patiala tracks.

Akkunji had won a gold each in women`s 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou before she was caught for doping the following year. Her two-year ban period ended on July 3.

India qualified for the women`s 4X400m relay in the August 10-18 World Championships after winning gold in the Asian Athletics Championships in Pune early this month.

The quartet of M R Poovamma, Anu Mariam Jose, Tintu Luka and Nirmala had clocked 3:32.26s to bag the gold in Pune.

The AFI selection committee will pick a six member 4x400m relay squad with two as reserves at a meeting here tomorrow. The selection committee, headed by Gurbachan Singh Randhawa, will also name the Indian team for the World Championships.

Poovamma, Mariam Jose and Luka are expected to be the automatic picks and the AFI selection committee is likely to add three more athletes from the five who took part in the trials today.