August 1, 2006 11:50:06 pm
At 27, in the world of sprint, many top athletes would be aiming to peak, give off their best. But India’s Saraswati Saha thinks otherwise. At the prime of her running career, the sprinter has called it a day. “No more athletics,” says Saha.
At 23, she did her country proud by winning the 200 m title at the Busan Asian Games. While many believe she has a few years of good running in her yet, this must have been a hard decision. But persistent heel and tendon injuries, says Saha, hampered her training. Apparently, the recurrence of injury, must have added to the pressure.
The Asian gold medallists says her Achilles tendon was the root of her sports career being cut short. “I wasn’t able to sustain hard training. Whenever I used to push myself in training, the pain cropped up again. So, I decided to give up competitive running,” she told The Indian Express from Kolkata.
Athletes do get injured, and they make comebacks. Unfortunately, Saha isn’t keen on stepping onto the track again. That decision could be one reason that stopped her from going in for surgery. Medical experts had advised surgery, but she opted out. “I am not going for surgery,” was all she would say.
Saha’s injury, says the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) secretary Lalit Bhanot, occurred after the Busan Asian Games. “She failed to recover and quit the national camp,” said Bhanot.
An employee of Eastern Railways, Saha began her athletics career in 1990. She won her first national level medal the year after, and four years later she made her international debut.
The country’s athletics fraternity witnessed the best of Saha’s running skills during the Ludhiana domestic circuit meet in 2002. She set the track ablaze with her 22.82 seconds performance in the 200m. That was a new national mark. The previous record of 23.10 seconds was in the name of Rachita Mistry.
Saha is the first female sprinter to have clocked a sub-23 seconds for the 200m. She repeated her feat during the domestic meet at Delhi. Her Busan gold, though, came in 23.28 seconds.
After Busan Saha’s performance dipped. It become too obvious that something was wrong. The Kolkata-based sprinter wasn’t able to regain her best in 2003.
The Athens Olympic Games were happened to be Saha’s international swansong. She clocked 23.07 to book a berth for the Olympics, but wasn’t able to repeat her home performance on the bigger stage, finishing at 23.43 seconds (fifth in her heats).
Thereafter her career screeched to a halt.
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