We weren’t there to make up the numbers: India relay quartet | More sports News – Times of India

KOCHI: A medal may have eluded them but by finishing a creditable fifth in the final of the men’s 4×400 relay at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, the Indian quartet of Muhammed Anas Yahiya, Amoj Jacob, Muhammed Ajmal Variyathodi and Rajesh Ramesh proved that they belong to the big stage.
After running a blistering 2.59.51 to obliterate the Asian record in men’s 4×400 by nearly half a second in the relay heats on Saturday, the Indians had raised hopes of a podium finish. Though they clocked below 3 minutes for the second successive day, the timing of 2.59.92 saw the Indians finishing behind USA, France, Great Britain and Jamaica in what was a high-class field.
“Disappointed not to get a medal,” Ajmal said, while speaking to TOI from Budapest airport.
The former U-19 state level footballer from Kerala started his journey in athletics as a sprinter, before switching to 400m. The 25-year-old, who ran the third leg in Budapest, always believed that his best chance of a medal on a world stage was in the form of relays. His belief nearly came true on Sunday. “We wanted to give our best in the final too and our plan was to run under 3 minutes. We did that but it wasn’t enough to finish on the podium. However, we could prove that we weren’t there just to make up the numbers,” said Ajmal.
What made the Indians’ feat even more remarkable is that they managed to step on to the track for the final despite one of them, Ramesh, being carried off on a wheelchair soon after the heats in what appeared to be an injury to his thigh. Ramesh was seen grimacing in pain midway through the race in the heats but was exhorted by his teammates not to give up. “Bhai mar ja agar marna hai, bas pakad ke rakhiyo” (Brother, die if you must but don’t let him go), Amoj revealed on what he shouted out to Ramesh while he appeared to be tapering off in the final leg of the heats.
Amoj, who was born and brought up in Delhi, mentions that their coach, Jamaican Jason Dawson, had a simple strategy for the Worlds. “Our coach said, whoever is first, you have to be behind him.”
Ajmal too gave the Jamaican coach for the turnaround in the relay team’s fortunes. “Jason sir is very good at workouts. Add to that, he is a great motivator. There is months of hard work and training behind this fifth-place finish,” said Ajmal.
For Anas, the most experienced of the four runners, the World Championships offered them a shot at redemption. “We didn’t do well in the last Worlds. We lost the crown at the Asian Championships last month. So we were determined to do better this time,” said Anas.
The performance at the Worlds has come as a huge confidence booster for the quartet and they are eyeing more medals in the coming days.


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