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IAAF Championships: Silver lining at the end of disappointment for India

Although India did not live up to their full potential at the 2015 IAAF World Championships, their performance could mean positive news for Rio 2016.

India’s stars at the Championships: (clockwise from top left) Sudha Singh and Jaisha Orchatteri, Tintu Luka, Inderjeet Singh and Lalita Babar

The 15th World Athletic Championships (IAAF World Championships) held in Beijing, China concluded on 30th August.  1933 Athletes from 206 nations across the globe participated in this biennial event to compete across 47 events (including events for men & women).

This sporting extravaganza witnessed multiple record breaking performances. Usain Bolt once again proved why he is still the best in the business by beating the favourite, Justin Gatlin of the USA, by 1 millisecond in the 100m and 19th millisecond in the 200m.

Middle and long distance races were dominated by African nations except for the 500m and 10,000m races, where Britain’s Mo Farah stood apart to complete a rare “triple-double” (5000m and 10,000m gold in 2011 Olympics, 2013 & 2015 World Championships).

Kenya led the medal tally at the Championships with 16 medals (7 gold, 6 silver and 3 bronze), surpassing giants like the USA, Russia and favourites like Jamaica. The newest entrants to the tournament, Kosovo and South Sudan, marked their debut in this year’s Championships.

The event was marred by the black cloud of doping, but went off without a glitch. This will hopefully help in repairing the tarnished image of the athletics community.

India’s performance at the event was well below par, with the nation finishing at a lowly 65th position in the rankings, with a single top 8 finish by an 18-player strong contingent. It appears that most Indian media ignored this event as well, focusing only on marquee events like the 100 and 200m sprints.

A closer analysis of India’s performance since 2011 at the Championships suggests that India’s performance at the event has stayed more or less the same throughout the years.

The silver lining for India this year was the entry of 3 athletes in the final rounds of their respective events, along with a Rio 2016 Olympic berth for Tintu Luka in the women’s 800m race and Sudha Singh at the marathon. 

Lalita Babar was instrumental in her national record breaking run in the 3000m steeplechase while Jaisha Orchatteri became the first Indian woman to run a marathon below the mark of 2hr 35mins. She finished the event in 18th, with her teammate Sudha Singh in 19th with 2:35:35. Singh’s time has qualified her for the 2016 Olympics.
 
 India’s performances at the last 3 iterations of the event:

Year

Host

Rank

Best Finish

Discipline

Name of Athlete

Other athletes in Final round, rank

National Record (NR)

Personal Best (PB)

Season's Best (SB)

2011

S Korea

61

7th

Discuss Throw

Vikas Gowda

Mayookha Johny (Long Jump), 9th

 

 

1

2013

Russia

53

7th

Discuss Throw

Vikas Gowda

 

1

 

1

2015

China

65

8th

3000m Steeplechase

Lalita Babar

Inderjeet Singh (Shot Put), 11th

2

2

3

Vikas Gowda (Discuss Throw), 9th


Although India’s performance in this year’s event has diminished compared to other two events, one thing that can be noticed is that the number of Indians in the final round of any event has increased from 1 to 3 events and at the same time, the number of records broken (National records, Personal Best and Season Best) were nearly quadrupled in this year’s event.

Considering that India’s medal hopes at Rio 2016 are pinned to sports like shooting, boxing, badminton and athletics, events like these are certainly the litmus tests to test athletes’ level of preparation. With India’s athletes performing increasingly well in these events, getting a medal at this prestigious event is now hopefully just a matter of time.

 

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