When Amiya Kumar Mallick won the gold at the first leg of the Indian Grand Prix earlier this week,it wasn’t entirely clear how good the sprinter was. A power blackout at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium had robbed the meet of electronic timing. Mallick was hand timed in the 100m final as having run the race in 10.09 seconds, the fastest ever by an Indian.
But in the absence of electronic timing, the accepted practice is to add 0.24 seconds to Mallick’s timing to get a clearer picture of how fast he would have been if everything was in order.
Even while accounting for human error, Mallick would have stopped the clock at about 10.33 on Sunday — 0.03 seconds above the old national record of 10.30 seconds. But the fact that he was clocked on a hand-held device made his mark to be considered with a touch of scepticism.
Those who saw Mallick run the heats of the 100 metres in the Federation Cup on Thursday morning would have reason to believe that what they witnessed a few days ago was indeed a special performance by the Bhubaneshwar-based runner.
In the heats he clocked 10.35 seconds. The qualifiers help in separating the wheat from the chaff and hence the top sprinters ease once they know they will be fast enough to progress to the next round. So Mallick’s timing in the morning heats only indicated that he was capable of going much faster later in the day, when it mattered. In the semifinal, Mallick raised the bar further and shattered the national record of 10.30 by stopping the clock at 10.26 seconds. For someone who had an official personal best of 10.51 before this meet, Mallick was having a special day. By now there was anticipation that Mallick could go under the Rio Olympics qualifying standard of 10.15.
But it was to be a tragic end to a wonderful day for the 25-year-old. During the semifinals Mallick strained his hamstring. The injury was not bad enough to stop him from running the final with a heavily strapped thigh, but it was clear that he would not be at his best. He finished fourth in the final (10.51). Jyotisankar Debnath took the gold with a timing of 10.41 seconds, much slower than Mallick was in the heats.
Out for a week
The injury will take at least a week to recover after which Mallick hopes to get back to his quest to make the grade for the Rio Olympics. On current form, the qualifying standard looks well within Mallick’s range.
It is difficult to miss Mallick when he runs the 100 metres. Unlike his heavily built compatriots, Mallick is more gazelle-like — strong but wiry. While others look like they are stretching every ounce of muscle and more in the search for that extra yard of pace, Mallick eases through. Though he gives an impression that he is gliding through, Mallick has had to constantly battle injury. “Injuries are my best friend,” Mallick said.
Four years ago just ahead of the London Games, Mallick injured his left quadriceps so badly during a training session that it required surgery that left him out of action for a year. Indeed he was bed-ridden for six months before he started walking using crutches. “I was unable to walk. It was a serious injury, there was bleeding inside the muscle and there were blood clots. But I came back stronger,” Mallick said.
Qualifying for the Rio Olympics is Mallick’s target but he is happy that he has been able to break the national record.
“Rio is the ultimate target. No Indian sprinter has qualified for the Olympics in recent memory. But I also wanted to break the national record. It stood at 10.30 seconds and it was a shame that nobody could lower it further for six years. Ideally, I was aiming to lower the national record and also qualify for Rio. But I know I am capable of going to the Olympics,” Mallick said.
The sprinter trained under Glenn Mills, better known as Usain Bolt’s coach, in Jamaica over two years ago and trained alongside the world and Olympic champion and is still in touch with trainers from the sprinting powerhouse over email. “The training stint in Jamaica really helped and it is benefitting me because I still\ ask them for tips,” Mallick says.
For now, though, Amiya prefers to train in his home town of Bhubaneshwar, rather than the national camp. This is because he is a final year MBA student and can’t devote his entire year to training at the national camp. However, as he closes in on the Rio Olympics, Amiya is reconsidering his decision. After his record breaking performance on Thursday, he is likely to join the national camp when he gets back on track once the injury heals in a couple of weeks’ time.
DAY 1 RESULTS
100m: Jyotisankar Debnath (Bih) 10.41s; Krishnakumar Rane (Mah) 10.44; Md Abdul Qureshi (ONGC) 10.50.
5000m: G Lakshmanan (TN) 13:51.29; Suresh Kumar (ongc) 13:52.83; Yunus Mohammed (up) 14:11.55.
Pole vault: J Preeth (tn) 4.95m; Anuj Singh (ongc) 4.70; Sonu Saini (ongc) 4.70 & Pradhyumn Narbar (del) 4.70.
110m hurdles: Suresh Arumugam (tn) 14.33s; Anupendra Kumar (crpf) 14.70; T Balamurugan (tn) 14.72.
Javelin throw: Vipin Kasana (up) 76.42m; Shivpal Singh (air) 76.38; Davinder Singh (Pun) 76.26.
Shot put: Tajinderpal Singh Toor (ongc) 19.93m; Inderjeet Singh (Har) 19.17; Jasdeep Singh (Pun) 18.36
100m: Dutee Chand (Ori) 11.33s; Srabani Nanda (Ori) 11.45; hm Jyothi (Canara Bank) 11.46.
5000m: L Suriya (tn) 15:39.59s; Swati Haridas Gadhawe (Mah) 15:44.00; Sanjeevani Baburao Jadhav (ongc) 16:36.92.
100m hurdles: Pinki Rani (Har) 15.41s; Priyanka (Har) 18.39.
Hammer throw: Sarita Prakash Singh (up) 61.81m; Gunjan Singh (up) 55.38; Ritu Dhiman (ongc) 54.91.
Long jump: MA Prajusha (Ker) 6.30m; V Neena (Ker) 6.24; Shraddha Ghule (Mah) 6.21.
Women’s 400m final
Men’s 400m final
Women’s discus throw final
Men’s long jump final
Women’s 3000m steeplechase final