PATIALA: “This win is nice, isn’t it?” Raghavan asked after romping home in women’s 400m hurdles of the Federation Cup at NIS Patiala. It was a meet record and she had registered her personal best of 57.39s, slicing off 40 micro seconds from her previous best of 57.79s. But what enthralled her was not the numbers. The 23-year-old has been at loggerheads with the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) ever since she was omitted from the 4x400m relay squad for the Rio Olympics. Her appeal seeking compensation from the AFI for ommitting her from the team is still being heard at the Kerala High Court.
Prior to the Olympics, she was part of the relay team that went for overseas training and competition. But Anu alleged that she was sidelined to make way for another athlete. It was this grudge that prompted Anu to fly to Patiala against her coach’s opinion. She wanted to exact revenge on the athlete who had bypassed her to make it to the Olympic squad, and she had to do it in front of the AFI bosses. Growing up on a strong dose of Quentin Tarantino films, revenge was the one and the only theme that ran in Anu’s mind. “First I was denied entry for the South Asian Games because I chose to train outside the national camp. Later, I was neglected for the Olympic team as well even though I returned to the camp. This win was the one I was praying for,” she said.
When Anu had spelt out her plans to coach PB Jaikumar, he was not for it. He felt her body that had just recovered from a knee injury was not fit enough to take the rigours of the long hurdle race. He wanted her to relax ahead of bigger tests in future. But how could the Tarantino fan pull back? “Seeing that I was not going to relent, he gave me three sessions of hurdles training. I couldn’t do the full 10 hurdles training. I did 7 hurdles maximum and that’s 250-260m,” she said.
Another athlete, who trains alongside Anu, said the coach had told his ward to race under 58 because he felt she was too early to compete. “When I called him after the race and told the time, he was wondering if I missed some extra digit,” Anu revealed. Anu is unsure of her participation in the Asian Championahip, though this event served as selection trial. The AFI has made it clear that campers alone would be drafted to national teams. But Anu is least bothered. She has already won the race of her life. Revenge is the best motivation at times.
Sarita Singh set a national record in hammer throw hurling the iron ball and chain to 65.25m, beating the 62.74m mark held by Manju Bala. C Shiva set another national record in pole vault, scaling 5.14m. He broke KP Bimin’s four-year-old mark of 5.13m.