At the National Inter-State Senior Athletics meet in Lucknow, Anjali Devi showed how it’s done by not just winning the gold in the 400m race, but also beating the season’s best timing previously set by Hima Das. Anjali claimed the top spot and also ran the fastest 400-metre lap by an Indian for this season on Thursday. She clocked 51.53 seconds, a new personal best for the 21-year-old sprinter from Haryana.

Key Takeaways

  • Haryana’s Anjali Devi became India’s fastest 400-metre runner for this season on Thursday.
  • Anjali clocked 51.53 seconds, a new personal best for the 21-year-old sprinter from Haryana.
  • Her timing is more than half a second better than the second-best timing registered by another Indian this season – the 52.09s lap run by Hima Das in the Czech Republic in July this year.

Devi is season’s best

According to the record of this season in the 400m event, Anjali is the only Indian woman to achieve the World Championship qualification mark of 51.80s. The qualifying period is open till the midnight of September 6.

Anjali almost had the record to her name when she ran an impressive 51.79 seconds at the Open Nationals in Bhubaneswar last September. She couldn’t make a mark there and suffered a drastic fall in form after that. Being a part of the national camp earlier this year, Anjali failed to return home with good results. Some of her timings this season between the two sub-52s laps were 54.50s, 55.98s and 56.40s. She had been part of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) camp, joining other premier sprinters from India in Poland earlier this year, but at the last moment, she reportedly injured an ankle and returned home.

“Having not run since the Federation Cup (in March), I knew I would have to give my best in the final,” Anjali said after her win as per PTI, further adding, “I am grateful to all those who stood by me when I was getting my ankle treated. The national coaches have been in touch with me and I have trained under coach Rohtas Siwach at home before coming here.”

On Thursday, in 400m final, Saritaben Gayakwad (52.96s) got the second place while third place was taken by Jisna Mathew (53.08s).

Also Read: Look Beyond Cricket, Our Sportswomen Are Winning Golds!

Previous wins

Anjali’s rise over the past year is evidently remarkable. Last September, the athlete won the gold medal (51.79 seconds) at the Open Nationals in Bhubaneswar to meet the Qualifying Standards (51.80) for the biennial global event. At the 59th Inter-State Athletics Championships, Anjali surpassed the record of an athlete who has been trained by none other than legendary PT Usha – Hima Das. She also beat two national campers to claim her victory as she improved her personal best to 51.53 seconds.

Now, Anjali’s recent form will help her to appear for ‘confirmatory trials’ closer to the World Championships, a top Athletics Federation of India (AFI) official confirmed. Anjali, the winner of the ‘Best Athlete Award’ in Bhubaneswar, will have to go through the trials to claim her spot in the World Championships. She will run a “reconfirmation” race before the Doha meet.

Last September, the athlete won the gold medal (51.79 seconds) at the Open Nationals in Bhubaneswar to meet the Qualifying Standards (51.80) for the biennial global event.

Before Lucknow, Anjali had skipped the state trials in Haryana. The Haryana Athletics Association’s secretary Rajkumar has told Hindustan Times, “She has been elusive for the last many months and skipped the state trials after claiming to have gone for Railway selection trials,” further adding, “We sent her entry for the nationals on the basis of her previous performances.”

READ: Three Weeks. Five Golds. What Next For ‘Five’ Star Hima Das?

Looking forward

Anjali said she is now looking forward to joining the national camp in the run-up to the World Championships. She had participated in the Federation Cup in Patiala in May, but failed to make it to the final.

“During the Federation Cup, I was injured. Also I had put on weight. I was unfit. Following that, I went for an ankle treatment. I wanted to consult my personal doctor, who treated a back injury earlier, so I went home. Since then, I have been training with my personal coach in Kalva in Jind. As I am fit now, I thought I must participate in the inter-state championships because I wanted to register a good time before the World Championships,” Anjali said.

“I was sure of winning here (in Lucknow). I am training hard with my personal coach at home. I am on a mission to win a medal at the World Championships and qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games,” a confident Anjali said.

“After this performance, we will think about her re-entry to the national camp,” said AFI planning commission chairman, Lalit Bhanot.

ALSO READ: I Earned It: World Para-Badminton Champion Manasi Joshi

Feature Image Credit: The Indian Express

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