India’s women’s 3000m steeplechase runners had a mixed outing in on Day 8 of the Rio Olympics 2016 as Lalita Babar qualified for the final but Sudha Singh failed to make the cut. Lalita even managed to shatter the Indian national record on her way to the final.
Lalita was the first Indian to compete and she took part in Heat 2. She started strong and also took the lead halfway through the race in spite of suffering a fall. She held on to the lead for a while as the athletes ran in the Rio sun but after the 2500-metre mark she started to fade.
It wasn’t until the final lap that Beatrice Chepkoech accelerated to take the lead. The Kenyan runner simply left her competition behind as she surged past Lalita, USA’s Emma Coburn and Tunisia’s Habiba Ghribi. By the time they reached the last 150m, she was well clear of the pack.
At this stage, Lalita simply didn’t have the energy reserves to come back and finish in the top three. Beatrice finished first in the heat with a time of 9:17.55 while Emma finished second with a time of 9:18.12 while Habiba finished third with a time of 9:18.71.
The top three from each heat automatically qualify for the final. But the next six fastest women also move to the final. Lalita’s time of 9:19.76 was much better than those who finished outside the top three in Heat 1 and she still stood a chance.
Sadly, Sudha Singh could not match Lalita’s feat and finished a lowly ninth with a time of 9:43.29. The winner in the third heat was Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi who finished with a time of 9:24.61. That time itself ensured that Lalita Babar qualified for the final as one of the six fastest athletes who finished outside the top three in their heat.
However, the story of the heats was Ethiopia’s Etenesh Diro who lost her shoe and struggled to put it back on. Losing precious time, she threw it aside and ran with only one shoe and even managed to finish in seventh place in the heat as the Rio crowd cheered her on. She got a huge ovation after she crossed the finish line as she collapsed on the track following a heroic effort.
QUIGLEY Colleen Quigley
HILLS Madeline Heiner Hills
Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi
Lydia Chebet Rotich