Looking for medal at the Olympics too, says confident Amoj Jacob
Amoj Jacob, a prominent member of the men's 4x400-meter relay team, made a resounding statement after the World Athletics Championships after the team nearly dismantled USA's aura of invincibility. He went on to say that winning the Asiad gold won't be a hassle and the team eyes Olympic medal too.
He eloquently shared his optimism for India's triumph in the upcoming Asian Games, emphasizing the nation's aspiration for gold. Furthermore, he highlighted that India's sights are set on securing a podium finish at the Olympics, contingent upon the team's qualification.
The 4x400m relay team ran an incredible race to break the Asian record and qualify for its first World final round in Budapest last week, setting a time of 2 minutes 59.05 seconds in the heat.
The team of Muhammed Anas Yahiya, Jacob, Muhammed Ajmal Variyathodi, and Rajesh Ramesh placed second behind the United States to go to the competition's final, where it placed fifth out of eight teams.
After breaking the Asian record of 2:59.51, Jacob, the second runner in the quartet, predicted that "barring unforeseen circumstances, we will win the gold at the Hangzhou Asian Games, and will also aim for a podium finish at the Olympics next year (if we qualify)."
Given that we placed fifth in the World Championships, Amoj said, the experience was a "huge morale booster ahead of the Asian Games."
"We will have less pressure in Hangzhou (Asian Games), and our effort will be to further improve the Asian record we set at the Worlds," said Jacob outside of a celebration of National Sports Day at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
On August 29, the day of hockey phenom Dhyan Chand's birth, the National Sports Day is observed.
The runner responded, "The focus is on the baton... that it should not fall, come what may, and my mind was occupied only by that thought," when asked what was going through his head during the heat shortly before he got the baton from Anas. I just seized the baton and went as quickly as I could since the second runner's responsibility is to put the team in a favourable position.
An argument had started when Rajesh and American Justin Robinson seemed to wrestle on the anchor leg's back straight. “You do lose momentum (following such an incident). It’s very difficult to catch up, no matter how hard you try,” said Amoj, adding, “had it (the jostle) not happened, who knows we would have won the heat.”
Having trained together in Thiruvananthapuram since November of last year, according to Anas, a member of the 4x400m mixed relay team that won gold at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games, was a major factor in the quartet's success at the Worlds.
“We had been running poorly this last one year, clocking somewhere around 3 minutes, seven seconds. We had three athletes injured... Amoj, Rajesh and me also injured. But before the Worlds, all three of us were injury-free, which gave us the confidence to give it our best shot. It (Worlds) was an experience in itself,” said Anas.
“I feel if we can handle the pressure in the Worlds, we are good to take that kind of pressure in the Olympics (if the team qualifies). We are eagerly awaiting the World Relays next year (in Nassau, May 4-5). If we do well there, we have a good chance of qualifying for the Olympics,” he said.
“I hope we four run at the Asian Games also, but the final decision is in the hands of the coach. The coach has expressed confidence in us, but let’s see,” added Anas.
Anurag Thakur, the sports minister, praised Indian sportsmen at the event for their recent accomplishments on the international stage.
“This is an unbelievable phase for Indian sports. In 60 years, there were only 18 medals at the World University Games (in Chengdu, China). This year itself, we won 26 medals in the tournament,” said Thakur.
“Not only that, across all sports, be it R. Praggnanandhaa in chess to Antim Panghal in wrestling and Aditi Gopichand Swami in archery, we are getting phenomenal results.”
"On the occasion, the National Sports Federations (NSF) portal was also launched for ensuring ease of business and good governance”.