Jakarta 800m gold proved my detractors wrong: Manjit Singh
Age is just a number and not many have proved it the way 29-year-old Indian track and field athlete Manjit Singh did at this year’s Asian Games in Indonesia.
With not a single international medal to show coming into the marquee event, nobody had given Manjit a chance coming into the 800m race, which is considered one of the most enduring competitions in athletics.
However, the Haryana-born runner made his detractors eat humble pie with an amazing acceleration in the last 150 metres that earned him a gold medal with a timing of 1:46.15 ahead of pre-race favourite compatriot Jinson Johnson and Qatar’s Abubaker Abdalla.
Recalling his golden feat, Manjit has now revealed how his strategy of conserving energy for the last phase of the race worked wonders for him.
“I had planned with my coach that I will follow the athlete who is leading. Athletes from Bahrain and Qatar were leading and I kept pace with them. I knew if I could keep pace with them up to 600m, I would have a good chance of going ahead of them in the end. That is exactly what I did. I had more energy and it helped me accelerate really well towards the end,” he said during an event organised by Skechers here on Saturday.
For Manjit Singh, the Asian Games success was a culmination of years of struggle both on and off the field. In 2014, ONGC didn’t renew his scholarship that he received for three years. And when he was not selected for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and Asian Games (Incheon), thoughts of leaving sports did begin to crowd his mind.
However despite being unemployed, Manjit decided not to give up and continue to persevere to realise his dream of winning an international medal. “That period was tough but I took it as a challenge. I was getting old and people had started to question if I would ever win an international medal. I wanted to prove them wrong and with hard work, I managed to do that in Indonesia.”
Manjit, who will leave for Banglore from Mumbai to train in the national camp, doesn’t want to sit on his laurels. He has already set his eyes on another gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Before that, he is keen to do well in next year’s Asian and World Championships.
“Next year we have the Asian and the world championships. From there doors for Olympic qualifications would open. I am looking forward to doing well there,” said Manjit, who took his first lesson in athletics from his father Randhir Chahal at his native village of Ujhana in Jind district of Haryana.