It has been more than a year since national javelin champion Anu Rani visited her home at Bahadurpur in Meerut district. It’s one of the few “sacrifices” she has had to make. Her performance on Sunday reaffirmed her that the small sacrifices are worth it, for the 24-year-old proved her sacrifices are worth it, as she not only bettered the national record, which she herself had held, but also qualified for the London World Championship.
Anu threw the spear to a distance of 61.86m to better her own earlier national mark of 60.01m in the last event of the competition. The qualifying mark for the World Championships stands at 61.40m.
It’s no coincidence that the 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist’s graph has begun to shoot after she began to train under former Commonwealth bronze medallist Kashinath Naik in 2013. He comes across as fastidious, something of a taskmaster, with restrictions on cell phones, movies and Facebook during the national camps in Patiala.
In fact, she hasn’t even been to a cinema hall in her life. “I don’t even know how a movie theatre looks like,” she says, with a broad smile. But soon follows a disclaimer, “Kashi sir is not as strict as he seems.” She says he tells her that giving up the small joys of life will bear fruit in the longer run.
Obviously, she clearly gets his message. “Once they win a medal at the world level, then they can do whatever they like. We need be completely focused on our goal. These girls stay away from their families so long and I am like a parent to them,” says Kashinath, who also trains London-bound Davinder Singh.
The coach monitors his athletes not only on the field but off it as well. One of Kashinath’s trainees, from Assam, says she hardly misses home due to his care. “We are like a family. We are very close to sir’s wife and son too,” says Anu, who has taken a vow that she will join Facebook after winning a medal at the wold championship.
Once a while Kashinath treats his trainees to his wife’s special uthappam. Anu’s treat is due after her performance on Sunday. But she will have to wait a couple of days as her father, Amar Pal, has requested the coach to take her home. “There won’t be any celebrations,” he says.
Amar Pal, a farmer, traveled to Patiala to cheer his daughter, as he had been since 2008, when the athlete first made her mark. Like most Indian parents he’s a critic too. “Thoda aur khulke marna tha (You should have opened up a bit more),” he was advising Anu.
Initially, like most Indian parents, he was skeptical of her daughter pursuing athletics. But he became convinced after watching her fare well at various junior level events. Anu will head to London for the World Championships in August but is not sure if she would explore the city. “Agar coach saab allow karenge toh”. Needless to say, the coach’s presence is reassuring for her father. “She won’t be distracted,” he says.
Besides Anu and Davinder, Manpreet Kaur (shot put) and Neeraj Chopra (javelin) have qualified for the World Championship.
Double delight for Delhi boy
A day after winning the 800m race, beating seasoned athletes like Jinson Johnson, Amoj Jacob came up with another superb show in 400m. His 46.26m run helped him overcome veterans Arokia Rajiv (46.64s) and Sachin Roby of Kerala (46.87s).
Odisha’s Dutee Chand got the better of state-mate Srabani Nanda in 100m. Dutee’s effort (11.48s) was commendable considering the blistering heat at the venue. Nanda clocked 11.57s.
Haryana’s Nirmala Devi, who’d taken part at the Rio Olympics, also qualified for the World Championships. Nirmala won gold medal in the women’s 400m race with a meet-record timing of 51.28 seconds.
The World Championships qualifying mark for women’s 400m is set at 52.10 seconds. Nirmala was dominant in her race, leaving behind seasoned runner MR Poovama of Karnataka.
Poovama came a distant second with a timing of 52.70 seconds while Debashree Mazumdar of West Bengal claimed the bronze in 53.59 seconds.
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