Sudha Singh, after Rio and swine flu low, wins 3000m steeplechase at Federation Cup

Sudha Singh’s winning time at the Federation Cup athletics championship was far below her personal best as she led home a bunch of Uttar Pradesh runners and declared she was ready to find her best again.

other sports Updated: Jun 04, 2017 00:41 IST
Sudha Singh,Rio Olympics,Federation Cup athletics
Sudha Singh celebrates after winning the 3000m steeplechase gold at the Federation Cup athletics championships in Patiala on Saturday.(HT Photo)

Olympian Sudha Singh eased to victory in the women’s 3000m steeplechase in the Federation Cup athletics here on Sunday, delighted to win despite a slow time after a tough several months since the Rio Olympics.

Sudha, representing Uttar Pradesh, dominated the race before coming home in 10 minutes, 03.1 seconds, over 15 seconds ahead of second-placed Parul Chaudhary, also from UP.

Her personal best is 9 minutes, 26 secs, clocked at last year’s Shanghai Diamond League, but Sudha was happy to inspire youngsters from her state.

Swine flu setback

“It’s a good performance considering that I had swine flu after the Rio Olympics. I had to miss out on vital training sessions for nearly four months due to weakness,’’ Sudha Singh said after victory.

The days of struggle, she tells you, are over now. ‘’I am fit now. But the weather wasn’t ideal for a gruelling race like steeplechase. Hopefully I’ll do better in my next competition,” she added.

For the national champion, the first half of 2016 was excellent but the second half that included Rio Olympics didn’t go on expected lines. At Rio, she tumbled in her heats after three rounds, and though she was quickly back on her feet, she lost vital ground and wasn’t able to qualify for the final.

However, Sudha’s training partner from Maharashtra, Lalita Babar, qualified for the final, eventually finishing tenth. Babar had opted out of the Patiala meet on personal grounds.

Although Sudha failed to showcase her talent in Rio, youngsters from Uttar Pradesh seemed keen to emulate her, which could be why six of the nine runners in the final were from that state.

In fact it was a procession of UP runners in the top six with Sudha leading the field. Teenager Nandini Gupta from Lucknow, who finished fifth overall, said she always gets training tips from Sudha whenever she is home from the national camp.

According to distance coach JS Bhatia, the event has caught the fancy of UP since Sudha Singh’s rise to prominence.

Haryana’s Naveen Kumar won the men’s steeplechase clocking 8 minutes, 50.85 seconds, maintaining his superiority in an event he has dominated for the last two years. Durga Bahadur of Uttarakhand was second in 8 minutes 52.81 secs, while Jaiveer Singh of Haryana finished third (8:57.72).

Top athletes, including Sudha Singh, are aiming for a podium finish in the Asian Athletics championships to be held in Bhubaneswar from July 6-9. ‘’We still have four weeks to go,’’ Sudha Singh said.

First Published: Jun 04, 2017 00:41 IST