With under-20 World champion Hima Das and Asian champion Nirmala Sheoran — the continent’s second and third best quartermilers behind Bahrain’s Nigeria-born star Salwa Eid Naser — in its team, India is the favourite to retain the women’s 4x400m Asian Games relay gold at Jakarta.
But there is a hitch.
The AFI has been repeatedly saying that Nirmala, being a non-camper when the Asiad team was selected after the inter-State Nationals, will not be included in the relay team.
But without Nirmala, it will be tough to win the relay gold which India won with a meet record in 2014.
Nirmala, who has now joined the national camp near Prague, is not just a non-camper.
She was virtually in hiding evading dope testers for many months till she popped up for the inter-State meet.
That puts the AFI in a dilemma. The National federation had insisted that it wanted only campers in the relay as it felt that non-campers could be on banned drugs.
The AFI and its coaches’ strategy in Jakarta will now be closely monitored!
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