Gold winner Parvej upbeat despite missing out on Olympics

Long-distance runner claims gold in inter-state senior nationals, says he'll aim for better show next year after failing to make the cut for Paris Games.
Indian track athlete Parvej Khan
Indian track athlete Parvej KhanPhoto | Instagram

PANCHKULA: The Shivalik range was a hazy silhouette in the horizon. As the evening dusk settled in and the floodlights shone brightly, the hills melted in the darkness and were forgotten. If not for lucky breaks and streaks of fancy performances, Parvej Khan would have just languished in a dusty village in Mewat district, Haryana.

For the better part of the race, Parvej was chasing, just like his passion, the leader of the 1500m pack at the inter-state senior nationals here. Then he accelerated, with his chain between his teeth he passed the pack and finished the race in front. Things were not easy for him when he started. Like most athletes in the country, he too had a modest beginning, his share of struggles. Joining an US institution and pursuing sport were not even in his dreams. Yet he did. He has been training in Florida for almost a year.

On Friday, Parvej clocked 3:42.95s and finished ahead of Yoonus Shah of Uttar Pradesh with a timing of 3:43.88s and Mehedi Hassan of Assam, who managed 3:44.40s.

The mind is the space that athletes consider sacred and it is this space that Parvej felt should remain healthy and he said as much during an interaction after his gold-medal effort. "It is not about staying healthy, it is about staying mentally fit as well," he said. He believes the little difference in the training in the West helps an athlete to prosper. "The coaches know when to stop," he said.

Had the timings been better, he could have made the Olympics cut but Parvej knew things would not be easy. The conditions were a bit hostile. The humidity was sapping. Things didn't go his way and he settled for the medal and he was pleased with his effort. "I wanted to qualify for the Olympics but could not achieve it," said Parvej. He seemed relaxed and not overtly worried.

Taking things in his stride has been the epitome of his personality.

"My season is almost over and I will try to do well in the competitions next year. There are quite a few like the Asian Championships, and then the Asian Games in 2026. I was not running for better timing. You need better conditions and competitiveness to clock a better time."

Parvej's lucky break in the US came through an Instagram friend, who suggested that he try his luck with the Florida University. After getting admitted there, he had been doing well. His best timing in the US was 3:36.21 (in Portland in the USA earlier this month). "It is a nice feeling," said Parvej. "It was a very good experience to be back in the country. I'm running in a national championship after one year. I also had an injury after running in India. I have had some personal setbacks too as my uncle died a few days back."

While describing the difference between training in the US and in India, he stressed on the attitude of the coach. He spoke about how the coaches turn friends and how they know what the athletes are going through, both mentally and physically. "There is better communication between the coaches with the athletes (during training in the USA), like regarding what are the requirements of an athlete. It is not that an athlete will keep on training and sometimes suffer injury. It is a lot more friendlier and you get more appreciation," he said."There is positive energy in the surroundings and that makes a lot of difference. Apart from remaining physically healthy, you need to be mentally healthy."

With the season over for Parvej, he'll be hoping to carry that positive energy next season.

In the 400m metres, there were fireworks as photo finish separated the first two racers – Muhammed Anas and Muhammed Ajmal both from Kerala — with a timing of 45.93s. In the women's section, a day after acquiring Olympic qualification norm, Kiran Pahal captured the top prize with a timing of 50.92s — a new meet record.

Results: Men: 100m: Gurindervir Singh (Punjab) 10.32 secs, Animesh Kujur (Odisha) 10.46s, Amlan Borgohain (Assam) 10.49s; 400m: Muhammed Anas (Kerala) 45.93s, Muhammed Ajmal (Kerala) 45.93s, Mohit Kumar (Haryana) 46.15s; 1500m: Parvej Khan (Haryana) 3:42.95s, Yoonus Shah (Uttar Pradesh) 3:43.88s, Mehedi Hassan (Assam) 3:44.40s; Discus: Nirbhay Singh (Haryana) 55.44m, Gagandeep Singh (Punjab) 53.33m, Oinam Singh (Manipur) 52.09m; Women: 100m: Sneha SS (Karnataka) 11.62 secs, Giridharani Ravi Kumar (Tamil Nadu) 11.77s, Nithya Gandhe (Telangana) 11.79s; 400m: Kiran Pahal (Haryana) 50.92s (MR), Deepanshi (Haryana) 52.01s, Dandi Jyothika Sri (Andhra Pradesh) 52.11s; 1500m: Lili Das (West Bengal) 4:13.87s, KM Chanda (Delhi) 4:14.85s, KM Deeksha (Madhya Pradesh) 4:18.38s; Shot put: Abha Khatua (Maharashtra) 17.63m, Kachnar Chaudhary (Rajasthan) 16.76m, Srishti Vig (Delhi) 15.11m; Pole vault: Rosy Paulraj (Tamil Nadu) 4.00m, Pavithra Venkatesh (Tamil Nadu) 4.00m, Mariya Jaison (Kerala) 3.90m.

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