Alex, a native of the seaside village of Pulluvila in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram region, has been chosen for the 4x400m mixed relay squad.

Alex Antony’s parents were relaxing by the sea after a long day’s work, as is customary, when they received a phone call from their son. The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) had just released the names of the 26-member Indian delegation for the forthcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo, and their son was one of them. Alex, a native of the seaside village of Pulluvila in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram region, has been chosen for the 4x400m mixed relay squad.

“Even though my parents don’t understand sports or what’s going on in the world of sports, they were overjoyed when I told them about my selection,” a beaming Alex tells Media from Patiala, where he’s attending the Olympics camp with other Indian athletes at the National Institute of Sports.

The AFI named the mixed relay team on Sunday, July 4, evening, following a series of selection trials held in Patiala. Although Alex was certain of making the Olympic team, having been a staple in the Indian athletics team since 2019, he admits that a recent bout of health troubles raised some misgivings.

“I had food poisoning a few days before the trials, so my mind and body were a little weakened. I also felt like I couldn’t perform as well as expected during the early parts of the trials, but I was able to overcome this and pick myself up,” adds Alex, who has been training in Patiala since 2014 after joining the Indian Air Force under the sports quota.

The road to the Olympics hasn’t been easy for Alex, whose father is a fisherman and mother is a housewife. He admits to media that if the institution he attended in classes 11 and 12 – PKS Higher Secondary School in Kanjiramkulam – had not supplied breakfast and dinner, he would not have participated in athletics.

Alex began competing in proper track events, including as 100m and 200m running, during his time at PKS, where he was coached by Pradeep Kumar. His enthusiasm in track and field was heightened after he joined the Sports Authority of India (SAI) in Thiruvananthapuram, where he received great training and supervision from his coach, Nishad Kumar. It was also at SAI that Alex began to concentrate on 400-metre running.

Alex represented India for the first time at a tournament in Goa in 2014, winning the bronze medal. But it was only in 2019, that he cemented his place in the Indian side by taking part in major events like the Asian championship and the World championship for the 4x400m event.

People in Thiruvananthapuram couldn’t contain their enthusiasm when news of Alex’s selection to the Olympic team broke, with groups and status updates flooded with congratulatory posts for the athlete from Pulluvilla. Among them were Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor, Thiruvananthapuram Corporation Mayor Arya Rajendran, and MLAs VK Prasanth, G Stephen, and M Vincent from the state capital’s several seats.

“Best regards to my constituent Alex Antony from coastal Pulluvila in Thiruvananthapuram, off to represent India in the 400 metre race at the Tokyo Olympics,” Tharoor tweeted. “This is a proud moment!”

People in Thiruvananthapuram couldn’t contain their enthusiasm when news of Alex’s selection to the Olympic team broke, with groups and status updates flooded with congratulatory posts for the athlete from Pulluvilla. Among them were Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor, Thiruvananthapuram Corporation Mayor Arya Rajendran, and MLAs VK Prasanth, G Stephen, and M Vincent from the state capital’s several seats.

“Best regards to my constituent Alex Antony from coastal Pulluvila in Thiruvananthapuram, off to represent India in the 400 metre race at the Tokyo Olympics,” Tharoor tweeted. “This is a proud moment!”

“Alex Antony’s feat is a proud moment not only for Trivandrum and the coastal region, but for the entire state of Kerala,” Trivandrum Mayor Arya Rajendran posted on Facebook.

In a Facebook post, Kovalam MLA M Vincent stated that the people of Kovalam and Kerala express their prayers and blessings to “our pride” Alex Antony, “who is forging forward with the ambition to win an Olympic medal for India.”

Sarthak Bhambri, Alex Antony, Revathi Veeramani, Subha Venkatesan, and Dhanalakshmi Sekar comprise the 4x400m mixed relay squad. The world’s largest sporting event will kick up on July 31 and go until August 9. On July 23, Alex and his colleagues will depart for Tokyo.

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