In her quest for Tokyo, Sudha Singh stays clear of home
Staying within the confines of the National Institute of Sports, Patiala is becoming the new normal for top Indian athletes as they don’t want to return home and risk getting infected with the novel coronavirus. Ace steeplechase runner and Asian Games medallist Sudha Singh, who is aiming for a last shot at gold at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, is one such athlete.
“I don’t want to risk myself as there is every chance of getting infected if I visit home (Rae Bareli). At home, I have to run on the roads for my routine fitness and endurance training, and that would be risky,” said Singh. “Even if things remain normal at home, I have to be quarantined after reaching home and again go through the same process once I come back to the camp. So it is better not to go home and meet the family,” she said, adding, “I am in constant touch with the family.”
Gold medallist at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou and silver medallist at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games, Singh doesn’t want to leave any stone unturned for Tokyo next year. “It’s my dream to finish on a high and would be very satisfying if I manage a podium finish in Tokyo,” said Singh, who will be 35 next year. “It’s all in your mind,” said Singh when asked about keeping up with younger challengers. “In fact, I never think about my age while running and always try to draw inspiration from other ageing athletes who have won medals at the top level. Even before 2018 Jakarta Games, I was discouraged by many because of my age but I proved my critics wrong and won a silver medal. I know that even at 35, I would be able to do well in marathon.”
If the Olympics were to be rescheduled one more time, Singh said she would retire after the 2022 Asian Games. “I would try to win a medal at the 2022 Asian Games and say goodbye to the sport. But for sure I am not going to quit without winning one more medal.”
Singh, who has also won a gold and three silver medals at Asian Championships between 2009 and 2017, has been running quite well to achieve the qualifying mark. “I am capable of qualifying in both steeplechase (9.30 sec) and marathon (2:29.30 sec) but now focused on marathon only. I have a chance to qualify at the Japan event in December before trying my luck at the Mumbai marathon next January,” said Sudha, who is now running within the qualifying time limit during her 21-km training. “I am also focusing on endurance and strength training for the December-January events,” said Sudha, who had a 19th place finish in marathon at the 2015 World Championship at Beijing with a timing of 2:35.35 sec.