MANGALURU: Sprinter Srabani Nanda was once touted a talent for the future. Close on the heels of winning the sprint double at the 2009 junior nationals, she became part of the 4x100m squad that won bronze in Delhi Commonwealth Games. Thereafter, her career tailed off, as a yellow metal in senior sprints eluded her for five years.
However, the 23-year-old finally lived up to her billing in the Fed Cup, as she completed the sprint double (100 and 200m) here on Monday. Having already claimed the 100m gold, the Odisha athlete left no stone unturned to ensure her second gold. As in the 100m, she relied on a powerful start that gave her an early leeway and built on it to finish ahead of Dutee Chand in 23.67s.
Srabani had earlier won a total of four silver and two bronze in the senior category and this gold haul, according to her, can help restore confidence. “When I finished fifth in the National Games, people started to write me off. Actually I ran there just to make my presence felt. If you want to win you need to peak during the competition. My training schedule was not designed to peak during the Games. That’s why I fared poorly,” she said.
The difference, she believes, has been her training stints in South Africa and Australia. “The training there gave a new direction to my career. I was also following the workouts of SAI coach Tarun Shaw,” she said.
Already under fire from the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) for not attending the national camp in Bangalore under Dmitry Vinaykin, Srabani said she wants to stay back in Kolkata and train with Tarun, who was the national coach before the Ukrainian took over. “We have been working on a programme for two-three years. I am satisfied with my improvement and there is no reason to leave the current coach,” she said.
Tarun felt the performance here would dispel doubts of his ward’s abilities. “She has qualified for the Asian Championships in both sprint events. Our immediate focus is on that. After that we will work on the timings and try to qualify for the World Championships. Any athlete needs three-four competitions to reach their best. Now she is confident and that would held her ask for more assistance from the authorities.”
With the ball now in their court, it would be interesting to see how the AFI treats the ‘camp defaulter’.
Meanwhile, MR Poovamma (53.41s) and Arokia Rajiv (46.24s) topped their respective 400m races and also qualified for the Asian Championships. Haryana’s Dharambir also made the cut, clocking 20.87s to win the 200m race. Shot putter Inderjeet Singh and sprinter Srabani Nanda were adjudged the best athletes of the event while Army won the overall championship.