Asian Games 400 metres hurdles champion Joseph Abraham will not have much time to rest on his laurels. His coach Rajinder Singh Saini is already setting the bar higher, even before felicitations for the winners are over.
With the win as a launchpad, Saini aims to use the next two seasons to prepare Abraham for the 2012 London Olympics.
Statistics show how big the challenge will be for Abraham to even reach the Olympics final. He won a tactical race in the Asian Games clocking 49.96s. The Asian Games record of Saudi Arabia's Hadi Soua'an Al-Somaily is 48.42s and his decade-old Asian mark is 47.53s.
And Abraham's winning time in Guangzhou was only good for the last place at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
But Saini had faith in Abraham's ability to outclass a strong field led by Japanese and Chinese runners in the Asian Games. And he believes with good preparation and presence of mind it won't be difficult to take on the Americans and Europeans. “The race doesn't always go to the fastest runner in the field, but the one who plans methodically.”
The first target for Abraham would be to achieve the Olympic qualifying mark. The main goal is to reach the finals. The preparation will begin in the second week of January. Apart from competing in the domestic competition in 2011, the focus will be on the Asian Athletics Championships in June/July followed by the World Athletics Championships in August.
During these two major competitions, Joseph will try different stride patterns. Currently the Asian Games champion takes 14 strides each for the first seven hurdles and 15 each for the rest. “Running with same stride pattern leads to stagnation,” says his coach. “We want to test during the 2011 season what works best for us.”
The coach also plans to spend at least a month in London next summer. Abraham set the national record of 49.51 s in the 2007 Osaka World Championships, but failed to reach the final.