'Hima & Dutee team-up' - Five times Indian relay teams made their presence felt in the past

One of the earliest relay successes of sorts for India was in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

By Samrat Chakraborty ·

It was announced earlier this month that two of India’s ace sprinters in Hima Das and Dutee Chand are set to team up in the women's 4x100m relay team as they prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The qualifications for the Olympics was frozen by the World Athletics, due to the pandemic, till November 30. The relay team will set their sights on Asian Relay Championships in Thailand in the first week of April next year and also the World Relay in Poland in the first week of May to ensure qualification for Tokyo.

Hima, nicknamed the Dhing Express, is the first Indian athlete to win a gold medal in a track event (400m) at the IAAF World U20 Championships in 2018.

Hima Das

India’s chief national coach Radhakrishnan Nair feels that Hima, the 2018 junior world 400m champion with a personal best of 50.78s, is capable of running 100m below 11.50s.

Working with Dutee Chand, another fine athlete, will help the relay team, believes Nair. Chand holds the national record of 11.22s in 100m.

The last time India women's 4x100m relay team competed at the Olympics was in 2000. Although there was no qualification round at place then, the team comprising of Sarawati Dey, Rachita Mistry, Vinita Tripathi and V Jayalakshmi, made an early first-round exit,

However, Das and Chand’s inclusion in the team will certainly boost the team’s chances of qualifying for Tokyo.

There have also been occasions when the Indian relay team has surprised us in marquee competitions. Let us turn back the clock and have a look at five such performances.

India reach final of 4x400 women's event at 1984 Olympics

One of the earliest relay successes of sorts for India was in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

The women’s 4x400m team, comprised of legends like M. D. Valsamma, Vandana Rao, Shiny Abraham and P.T. Usha, delivered a brilliant performance to qualify for the final event of the women’s 4x400m relay at the 1984 Olympics. The quartet,put their best foot forward in the final event and finished seventh.

India women's 4x400m relay team sets National Record at 2004 Athens Olympics

India executed their best-ever performance in the women's 4x400m relay event in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. The team comprising Rajwinder Kaur, KM Beenamol, Chitra K Soman and anchor Manjit Kaur set a new national record time of 3:26.89 in the heats to qualify for finals

Although India finished third behind the US and Greece to qualify for the final event, they finished on the seventh spot again in the final.

Asian Games domination

India has had a terrific track record in the women’s 4x400m relay event in the Asian Games, winning five consecutive gold medals from the 2002 event in Busan.

Most recently, the Indian team consisting of Hima Das, MR Poovamma, Saritaben Gayakwad and Vismaya Velluva Koroth clocked a time of 3:28.72 to claim the gold in the 2018 Asian Games at Jakarta.

The team finished ahead of Bahrain (3:30.61) and Vietnam (3:33.23).

Women's 4x400m relay team at the 2018 Asian Games

The 4x400m mixed relay team also won the gold in the 2018 Asian Games, albeit belatedly. The quartet of Mohammed Anas, MR Poovamma, Hima Das and Arokia Rajiv had finished behind Bahrain (3:11:89) with a time of 3:15:71 to bring home the silver medal.

In a major turn of events, however, the hue of their medal was later upgraded to gold after Bahrain was disqualified.

Indian women’s 4×400m relay team creates Commonwealth Games history

Till 2010, India had never won a relay gold in the Commonwealth Games. However, in front of a vociferous home crowd in New Delhi, India set the record straight.

The women’s 4x400m relay team Manjeet Kaur, Sini Jose, Ashwini Akkunji and Mandeep Kaur stormed their way to the gold medal with a time of 3:27.77, with Nigeria second in 3:28.72 and England third in 3:29.51.

In many ways, it was a stunning performance by a team that was never expected to win the gold.

"We have shown that we can win medals at the highest level. Athletics competition in the Commonwealth Games is of a high standard," then-National Athletics Coach Bahadur Singh said after that spectacular finish.

Tokyo Olympic qualification

The Indian 4x400m mixed relay team of Muhammed Anas, Vismaya, Krishna Mathew and Noah Nirmal Tom will have hopes pinned on them after they helped the country clinch a spot in the Tokyo Olympics next year.

The quartet finished behind Poland and Brazil with a time of 3:16.14s to reach the final of the World Athletics Championships in 2019, which helped secure a Tokyo Olympics berth.

India edged out Belgium by two-hundredths of a second, with the latter finishing with a time of 3:16.16. The Indian team also bettered their previous season-best of 3:16.47.