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Rajiv can’t wait to hit Rio track

Published : Jul 17, 2016, 1:21 am IST
Updated : Jul 17, 2016, 1:21 am IST

S. Arokiya Rajiv expended his last ounce of energy to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in the 400m.

S. Arokiya Rajiv expended his last ounce of energy to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in the 400m. He came agonisingly close to punching a Rio ticket with a scorching run at the Federation Cup in New Delhi two months ago. But his time of 45.47 seconds, a national record, fell short of the Olympic cut by 0.07 seconds. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, the Tamil Nadu athlete chose to focus on the 4x400m relay. The Indian 1600m relay team, spearheaded by Rajiv as anchor, clicked in the nick of time to qualify for the quadrennial gala. Their time of 3:00.91 seconds was astounding for the fact that only one team had run faster this year. In a matter of three minutes Rajiv and Co. had become a talking point in Indian athletics.

For Rajiv, the euphoria after the storming run in Bengaluru last week hasn’t died down. He is still in a daze. “I knew that we stood a good chance of making it to the Olympics but I didn’t expect us to run so fast,” said Rajiv, who bagged a bronze medal in the 400m at the Incheon Asian Games in 2014.

Not qualifying for the individual event didn’t affect Rajiv much. “Winning an individual medal would be almost impossible for me. Even though I was initially upset after coming so close, I wasn’t distraught in the end,” the Armyman said.

Rajiv and his team now have the onerous task of rising to the occasion in Rio — a task which is easier said than done. Indian athletes have a notorious habit of choking on the big stage. “I’m sure we will be able to maintain the momentum. Competing with the cream of the world will bring out the best in us. We need to run well under three minutes to stand a chance of winning a medal,” he said.

India need not worry about their anchor’s ability to push himself.

“I don’t give up on the home stretch. My finishing kick has always been strong. The hardships I endure during training motivate me to give my all in every competition,” Rajiv said.

Rajiv has put Vazhudaiyur, a small village near Lalgudi in Tiruchi district, on the map of Indian athletics. The small job of putting India on the world athletics map awaits him in the enchanting coastal metropolis of Rio.