CHENNAI: Abrar Choudhary always had a liking for running but it was not before 2019 he started pursuing it seriously. But it was not easy to find a training facility in Jammu, which unfortunately doesn't have a synthetic track. As has been the trend in Jammu, he started training under Ramesh Sharma, a retired SAI athletics coach. Given his penchant for running, the coach soon referred him to Rohtash Siwach, who trains quarter-milers at the Chhotu Ram Stadium in Rohtak, Haryana.
Abrar immediately shifted his base in December last year, and within 10 months clinched a 400m gold medal in the under-20 age category in the 3rd National Open 400m Championships at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi on Tuesday. By doing so, he also became the first athlete from the Valley to finish on the top of the podium in recent times.
"We don't have a synthetic track in Jammu because of which I shifted to Rohtak. It's difficult to stay away from family but you have to make sacrifices if you dream of representing the country," Abrar, whose father is a small-time farmer, told this daily.
Even before the gold medal haul in the national capital, Abrar had finished first in the 32nd North Zone Junior Athletics Championship held in Meerut in March by clocking 49.80 seconds. He also competed in the 1st National U-23 Years Athletics Championships held at the JLN Stadium, New Delhi last month. He didn't qualify for the final but clocked 48.60s in the preliminary round and 48.69s in the semifinals.
Abrar has improved more than a second from 49.80s in March to 48.56s on Tuesday. And his coaches credit the improved show to the hard yards put in by the 19-year-old athlete in the past few months.
"He is stubborn. If he decides something, he will leave no stone unturned to make it happen," said Sharma, Abrar's first coach. Siwach also termed him a dedicated athlete. "He is a hard worker, who never shies away from putting in those extra efforts. He follows my instructions religiously, which is why he has improved a lot in the last few months," said Siwach.
The coach, however, feels Abrar still needs a couple of more years to develop into a complete quarter-miler. "In the next two years, he will be the one to watch out for. I hope he continues with the hard work," added the coach.
Abrar too hopes to keep improving as his ultimate dream is to represent the country in the 2024 Paris Olympics. "Olympics is the goal and for that, I have to reduce my timings considerably. I believe I can do it and hopefully, I will get all the support to make it," signed off the quarter-miler.
Muhammed Anas holds the national record with a timing of 45.21sec set in 2019 while Amoj Jacob (46.59sec) has the record to his name in the junior category.