Indian women's javelin thrower Annu Rani has secured the upcoming Tokyo Olympics berth through the alternate qualification route of World Rankings.
The 28-year-old Annu has been a consistent performer in world javelin over the last couple of years with recently improving her national record to 62.83m at the National Inter-States. And that's why despite not breaching the stiff qualifying mark of 64.00m, her strong ranking of World No. 11 has helped her bag quota spot as just 15 throwers could earn the direct qualification by the end of the qualifying cut-off period of June 29.
To those unaware, if an athlete fails to breach the direct qualification standards for the Olympics then the World Athletics rankings provide an alternate route to qualify. The method takes into consideration the top five performances of an athlete during the qualification period with the standard of a competition fetching more points in the ranking system.
Annu's top five performances during the period, excluding the national record throw, were 62.43m, 61.12m ( both at 2019 World Championships, previous national records), 60.22m (2019 Asian Championships), 59.35m during a local meet in France in 2019.
Earlier India's sprint star Dutee Chand is set to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in both 100m and 200m events through the similar process. Dutee, who improved her national record earlier this month at Indian Grand Prix IV with 11.17 second run in the 100m but couldn't breach the Tokyo qualifying mark of 11.15 secs, saw her ranking improved to 44 in the 100m.
Disappointment was in store for Hima Das, who shifted her focus to the sprint events from 400m months before the Olympics, as she is ranked at 108th in the 200 with her best effort in top five is marked at 23.21secs at the Federation Cup in March. The Dhing Express was injured before her last gasp attempt for qualification at the National Inter-State in Patiala on June 26.
Among other track and field athletes who have qualified for Olympics are KT Irfan, Sandeep Kumar, Rahul Rohilla, Bhawana Jat and Priyanka Goswami (all 20km race walking); Avinash Sable (3000m steeplechase); Murali Sreeshankar (long jump); Neeraj Chopra and Shivpal Singh (javelin throw); Tajinderpal Singh Toor (shot put); Kamalpreet Kaur and Seema Punia (Women's discus throw) and 4x400 Mixed Relay.
Men's and Women's 4X400m relay team are also to qualify as they are among the top 16 in the world rankings as read the guidelines for qualification.