Followers of Indian athletics may have been disappointed at the absence of an upcoming youngster at the National Games in February and last weeks Federation Cup. At 16, Beant Singh has been tipped for big things especially since he won a silver in the 800m at the Open National Championships in November last year. He would justify that faith with his gold in the 800m at the Asian Youth Championships in Doha on Sunday.
The youngster had good reasons for giving the two premier national tournaments a miss. “Last year we took part in senior tournaments to give him some experience. His goal for this year was clear — it was the Asian Youth Championships,” says former Asian Games silver medalist Dinesh Rawat, who has coached the youngster for the last four years.
There was another issue. No athlete can race in tournaments throughout the year. Along with competitions, they also split the year into a training phase as well as an off season, during which they recover and prepare for the next phase.
Normally Rawat plans Beant’s over four months. Despite skipping a couple of major tournaments, Beant, whose last race of his previous season was the School Nationals in Ranchi at the start of the year, was squeezing his off season. “We didn’t really have a lot of time to prepare because we didn’t have a full off season. Usually we plan our off season for around four months from February because we don’t have any major events to take part in. But this time after the School Nationals in Ranchi in February, Beant also had to participate in the Youth Nationals in April because his performance there would determine his qualification for the Asian Youth Athletics,” says Rawat.
While Beant took gold in the youth Nationals without much fuss, the ultimate goal was still the Asian meet. While Rawat wasn’t part of the team that travelled to Doha, the coach stayed in contact with Beant over the phone. “At the Asian Youth Championships, he had been advised (by coaches who accompanied the team) to run along with the pack, but I told him simply to run his own race. It takes a lot of effort to run fast from the start but I was confident that he was far quicker than the rest of the field,” says Rawat. While Beant would win his race well in front of the field with a world level time of 1:52:26, coach Rawat believes he could have done better.
“I was confident he would finish in the range of 1 minute 49 seconds, because during our practice sessions he has been able to run around that mark. At the same time Beant made a few mistakes in his race. “He ran his first lap a bit harder than he needed to which meant he was a bit stiff towards the end of his race. But it isn’t easy because it isn’t easy to judge your pace when you are at the head of the pack. This is something he will learn with experience,” says Rawat.
Beant’s achievement still has plenty of merit though. “It is a big achievement that he won a gold in his first international race. Any fear he may have had about how he would fare in a big international competition would have now disappeared,” says Rawat.
But Beant now faces an even stiffer task – the World Youth Championships. He won’t be able to carry on with his fast off the blocks approach in Cali. “Right now, Beant’s time is the 8th fastest this year. Some of the Kenyan and East African runners are very quick. He will have to follow them rather than set the pace. He will need to work on his endurance as well because at the World Championships, he has to run three races (If he makes the final).” says coach Rawat.
Usha trainee Jisna wins silver
Doha: India’s Jisna Mathew set a new national youth record while winning a silver in girls’ 400m race on the third day of the Asian Youth Athletics Championships. Jisna clocked a personal best of 53.84 secs in the 400m final at Qatar Sports Club.
The gold went to Bahraini girl Salwa Eid Nasser in 53.02s. Malaysian Shereen Samson Vallabouy took the bronze at 55.14s. It was also the third best time by any Indian woman this year after Anilda Thomas (52.71 secs at the Nationals) and M R Poovamma (53.41 secs at the Federation Cup). India also won two more silver and three bronze medals to swell their medal tally to 12 (2 gold, 5 silver and 5 bronze) over three days. Ashish Jakhar (71.79m) and Miraja Ali (64.91m) won a silver and a bronze in boy’s hammer throw. In boy’s javelin throw, Mohd Hadish (75.52m) and Abhishek Drall (74.72m) bagged a silver and a bronze respectively. Sonu Kumar won a bronze in the triple jump (15.08m).