Kerala’s Muhammed Anas overcame hot and humid conditions to win the 400m with a national record of 45.32 seconds in the third leg of the Indian Grand Prix athletics at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Monday.
It was an improvement on his national mark of 45.40 secs set in Poland in June last year to achieve qualification for the Rio Olympics. However, he was eliminated in the first round at the Games, where he clocked 45.99secs
Monday’s performance enabled Anas to meet the qualifying mark of 45.50 seconds for the World Athletics Championships to be held in London in August.
The next target for Anas, 22, is to break the 45-second barrier. ‘’With more intense training and good competition I should be able to achieve that too in the coming months,’’ he said. The hot conditions weren’t ideal, but Anas didn’t complain. ‘’It’s all about preparation and I was ready for it,’’ he said.
Anas had started the season on a promising note clocking 45.68 secs in third leg of the Asian Grand Prix in Chinese Taipei, in the last week of April. In the Indian Grand Prix first leg at Patiala on May 7, he had clocked 45.89 secs. Four days ago, in the Indian GP second leg here, he had clocked a poor 48.70 secs, which he blamed on a poor start. ‘’I just lost focus,’’ he added.
Anas, who joined the Navy in 2015, began his athletics career five years ago, and got a big boost when he joined the national camp in November. National coach Mohammed Kunhi has big expectations from the 400m runners. ‘’We have good bunch of runners, hope they do well in the worlds,’’ he said.
Teenager Jisna wins women’s 400m
The focus at the one-day meet was also in the women’s race 400m, where 18-year-old Jisna Mathew from the PT Usha academy outsprinted seasoned runners to win gold at 52.65 secs. It was her season’s and personal best.
MR Poovamma, 28, finished a close second at 52.73 secs. Debashree Mazumdar, another seasoned runner, was third (53.69 secs).
After the race, PT Usha said the aim this season is to achieve the qualification mark of 52.01 secs for the world meet. ‘’She (Jisna) has been training hard. She has done better in training. With a couple of more good races she should be able to qualify for the individual 400m,’’ she told HT.
Asked about Jisna’s goals, Usha said her trainee should win a medal in the world junior meet in 2018.
“Next year we have three major competitions, including the Asian Games in August. All the events will help us build up for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The way she is training, she should be among the finalists in Japan,’’ she said, adding that she wants her ward to fulfil her dream of winning an athletics medal, Usha having missed the bronze medal in the 400m hurdles at 1984 Los Angeles by one-thousand of a second.
Federation Cup shifted
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has shifted the Federation Cup athletics, to be held from June 1-4, from Delhi to Patiala due to non-availability of the throwing arena. The field is being prepared for the October World under-17 World Cup. The Federation Cup is a qualifying event for the Bhubaneswar Asian championships from July 6 to 9.