During the Indian Grand Prix in February Muhammed Anas had a horror start in his 400 metre race. Anas’s coach PB Jaikumar, who was watching the race from the sidelines, believes the starting blocks slipped and ruined the start. So explosive is Anas at the start that the coach says he exerts the force a 100 metre sprinter would on the blocks.
“His hand-held time in the 100 metres is 9.94 seconds. He is capable of clocking sub 10.20 seconds (electronic timing). He has the mindset of the sprinter and the endurance of a distance runner,” Jaikumar says. A strong start is only one dimension of Anas’s race.
In the semifinals of the 400 metres at the Carrara Stadium Track on Monday, Anas was in fifth place with 120 metres to go. This is when he turned on the afterburners to finish first in the third semifinal. Jamaica’s Rusheen McDonald could only watch as Anas bolted ahead of him.
The 23-year-old’s timing of 45.44 seconds makes him the third fastest runner to have qualified for the final to be run on Tuesday. Expectations around Anas have understandably increased because he is the first track athlete after Milkha Singh to reach the final of the 400 metres at the Commonwealth Games. Singh won the gold in the 440 yard race at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games. Anas will have to sustain his form for the third day in a row to win a historic medal.
Jaikumar isn’t in Gold Coast but he watched the race on TV and liked what he saw.
“Today’s semifinal run was a good race. I believe he has found his rhythm. Today he ran the first 120 metres like a sprinter, then managed to maintain that speed and then in the final 120 metres he was explosive again. This is how it works for him. If he can repeat a similar performance on Tuesday, he could be in with a chance to win a medal. He is capable of breaking the national record,” Jaikumar said.
The combination of speed and endurance is what makes Anas a special talent the coach says. “Not too many athletes have the speed to run the 100 and 200 and also the endurance to produced a strong finish in the final stretch. He is naturally gifted,” Jaikumar adds.
Anas will face a quality field in the final, lead by the favourite Botswana’s Isaac Makwala, who finished fourth with 44.30 seconds at the 2017 World Championships in London. Javon Francis of Jamaica is another world-class athlete – a silver medalist in the 4×400 at the Rio Olympic Games. Grenadian Bralon Taplin was as fast as Anas in the semifinal but he boasts a personal best of 45.19.
For someone who made the switch from the long jump to the 400 metres just four years ago, Anas, who hails from Nilamel in Kerala, has made rapid strides.
Two years ago in Bydgoszcz, Poland, he clocked 45.44 and 45.40 to break the national record on two consecutive days. Last year, in the third-leg of the Indian Grand Prix he further lowered the record to 45.32. With two sub-46 second timings at the CWG – he clocked 45.96 in the heats – Anas looks like he is hitting the right strides.
His trip to the CWG was confirmed only when he agreed to join the national camp and be part of the 4×400 metre relay squad. The Athletics Federation of India had decided not to pick those who weren’t part of the national camp and Anas along with three others runners preferred to train with Jaikumar in Thiruvananthapuram.
A medal on Tuesday will also vindicate his decision to train under his personal coach.
Suriya registers PB
PTI adds: Suriya Loganathan ran her personal best but that was good enough for a 13th place finish in 10,000m race while shot putter Tejinder Pal Singh Toor took the eighth spot with a below-par show on the second day of athletics competition. Suriya fractionally ran better than her earlier personal best of 32:23.96 as she clocked 32 minute and 23.56 seconds to finish 13th in a field of 19 at the Carrara Stadium tracks.
Stella Chessang of Uganda won the gold in 31:45.30 while Stacy Ndiwa (31:46.36) and Mercyline Chelangat (31:48.41) took the silver and bronze respectively.
In men’s shot put, Toor could only come up with an effort of 19.42m, nearly one meter outside his personal best of 20.40m to end his campaign in disappointment. Four of his six attempts were sub-19m while he fouled the fifth one. His best throw of 19.42m came in the third attempt. Earlier in the day, national record holder Tejaswin Shankar advanced to the finals of the high jump competition after finishing ninth in the qualifying round. The Indian cleared 2.21m after starting out at 2.10m.