The focus was all on the quarter-milers as the runners, men and women, staked a claim for berths in the Paris-bound relay teams at the Inter-State Athletics Championships here.

Kiran Pahal. (HT Photo)

Kiran Pahal, who qualified for the Paris Olympics in the individual 400m race by breaching the standard of 50.95sec in the semi-finals on Friday, was once again in fine form during the women’s 400m final here on Friday. She repeated her performance of 50.92s for a second straight day to win 400m gold.

Deepanshi, also from Haryana, finished a distant second with a timing of 52.01s, followed by Jyothi Sri Dandi at third place (52.11s). Both Kiran and Deepanshi, however, are not part of national camp and might not be considered for Paris relay squads as per Athletics Federation of India’s selection policy.

AFI president Adille Sumariwala said the selection panel will look for consistency in performance through the season.

“Consistent performance will be rewarded. As per policy, performance during past three-four competitions including Inter-State meet will be considered to select members of relay teams. Any sudden performance might not be taken into consideration,” Sumariwalla told HT.

Kiran and Deepanshi have picked up pace in the lead-up to the Olympics. The Haryana girls impressed at state meets and now at the competition here.

India’s men’s and women’s relay teams have qualified for the Paris Olympics at the World Athletics Relays in Bahamas this year. The hot streak of these two Haryana girls has put the pressure on national campers. Six members each will be picked for the Olympics. The women’s squad in Bahamas comprised Jyothika Sri Dandi, MR Poovamma, Aishwarya Mishra, Prachi, Vithya Ramraj, Rupal, and Subha Venkatesan. If the 4x400m mixed relay team also qualifies, more berths will open up for quarter-milers.

AFI held a trial for some of the national campers — Poovamma, Rupal, Vithya, Aishwarya, and Prachi — on the sidelines of the meet on Friday. Vithya, who was disqualified in the 400m semi finals on Thursday because of a foul start, topped the trials — (53.16s). She was followed by Prachi (53.79), Poovamma (54.30), Rupal (54.48), and Aishwarya (54.82)

Jyothika has been one of the consistent performers this year in relays. She ran an outstanding leg in Bahamas where the team qualified for Paris and was also part of India’s mixed 4×400 relay team that set a national record while winning gold medal at the Asian Relay Championships in Bangkok.

“My main focus has been to do well here and stay in the top four to cement my place in the team for the Paris Olympics,” said Jyothika.

It remains to be seen whether Jisna Mathews, who is from PT Usha’s stable, is able to make the cut for Paris. Jisna finished sixth in the 400m final on Friday with 53.01s, while her best this season is 52.91s at Indian GP in June.

While AFI selection panel’s will have a tough task to pick the women’s team, the men’s squad will be relatively straight forward. The national campers have been giving consistent performances.

The 400m final here on Friday was a photo finish between Muhammad Anas and Muhammad Ajmal. Both clocked 45.93s but Anas nudged ahead to take gold. Both were members of the men’s relay side that qualified for the Paris Olympics. Arokia Rajiv and Amoj Jacob were the other two who ran the race.

Rajesh Ramesh, who pulled out of the first round due to cramps, Noah Nirmal Tom, Avinash Krishna Kumar, and Yashas Palaksha were other members of the squad. The men’s relay team has been making waves and set the Asian record (2:59.05) at the World Championships last year.