HYDERABAD: Once the fastest man in India, a five-time 100m national record holder, is now a fading star. Abdul Najeeb Qureshi, who clocked 10.30 at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, was tipped to achieve greater heights, and end India’s drought of international sprinters.
Six years on, Qureshi is a shadow of his past. At the 56th inter-state senior athletic championships, the sprinter managed 10.63s and finished behind the 32-year-old Shameer Mon. After a below-par show at home, things look rather bleak for him. With a season best of 10.49, Rio ticket is a distant dream. Injuries haven’t helped either, as he ran here with a niggle.
“I injured my hamstring after the Federation Cup in Delhi and was carrying a slight niggle here. It’s every athlete’s dream to qualify for Olympics. I didn’t want to miss a single chance,” Qureshi told Sunday Standard.
Having recently toured Kyrgyzstan and Kazkhstan with the 4x100m relay team, Qureshi was not satisfied with his performance there.
“These are not strong sprinting nations. We should have been training with better teams. But we have to be content in whatever we have.”
Also, Qureshi has been fasting in the month of Ramadan . That has taken a toll. “After returning from Kazakhstan, where it’s very cold, we were training in the heat of Delhi. Here, the weather is different. I’ve been fasting. As sprinters, we need extra nutrition. While fasting, it’s not possible.”
Like other Indian athletes, Qureshi has a grievance. They don’t compete and train abroad as much as they should. The federation sends athletes abroad for major tournaments. Even in those, athletes get little time to acclimatise.
“If we were sent to Europe earlier, I would have made it to Rio. The men’s relay team would also have qualified. But injuries to Amiya Kumar Mallick and me, and passport issues meant we cancelled the plan. Now, Rio chances are slim. If the federation sends us abroad for one or two events, we’ll try our best.”