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Tough task for Indian track and field athletes in Rio 

Rio de Janeiro, Aug 11 (IANS) India’s track and field athletes will begin their campaign at the ongoing Rio Olympics here on Friday with the tough task of achieving a medal in their disciplines.

Since, Norman Pritchard’s silver in the 200 metre and 200m hurdles in the Paris Olympics in 1900, India has not been able to make a podium finish in the Games, but keeping that history behind the country’s athletics team will look to break that medal jinx and create history.

Leading the Indian contingent will be discus thrower Vikas Gowda, who will make his fourth successive Games appearance, making him the first Indian athlete to achieve such a feat.

Gowda reached the finals of the London 2012 Games but the defending Commonwealth Games champion will aim to finish the competition with a medal.

Gowda, who is probably participating in his final Olympics, will aim to better his personal best 66.28, which he achieved in previous Games and finish among the top three.

Triple jumper Renjith Maheshwary remains a likely contender considering his good form lately.

At the 2012 London Games, he committed three consecutive foul jumps at the qualifying stage, which stopped his Olympic campaign.

With a jump of 17.07m at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Renjith held the Indian national record till 2014, when it was broken by Arpinder Singh.

Renjith made a new Indian record of 17.30m in the Indian Grand Prix at Bengaluru in July this year.

After failing in the previous Games, it will be a big task for him to prove a point and at least reach the finals.

Long jumper Ankit Sharma, who qualified with a jump of 8.17m in an Olympic qualifying event in Kazakhstan, the new national record mark, will aim to give his best in the Games.

In the track event, sprinter Srabani Nanda from Odisha too qualified for Rio after she covered 200m in 23.07 seconds.

Besides Srabani, Dutee Chand who had qualified in the 100m event might find it tough to reach the finals but will aim to give her best in the heats.

India will also have high hopes from distance runners O.P. Jaisha, Sudha Singh and Lailta Babar who will look to make it count in Rio with a confident finish.

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