Know your Indian Olympian: Lalita Babar
Lalita Babar, a 26-year old from Maharashtra is a no newcomer to Indian Athletics. Having established herself at the national stage, she is now looking forward to bring glory to the nation at the international level. She is currently India’s top obstacle runner, but her exploits in the 3000m steeplechase event only started from January 2014, prior to which she was an accomplished marathon runner, winning the Mumbai Marathon on three consecutive occasions.
Born in a farmer’s family in the drought-prone region of Satara in Sahyadri, Babar is no stranger to hard work. Not only has she fought financial problems but also the mental and physical challenges which most of the people living in that area face but with her utmost dedication and devotion to the game, she left no stone unturned and earned herself a job in the Central Railways on sports quota and eventually shifted to more comfortable surroundings in Mumbai
Records and Achievements
Babar, who won the bronze medal at Asian Games last year became the first Indian woman to qualify for a final of track event at the World Athletics Championships when she clocked 9:27.86 during the heats to smash her own National record by a whopping seven seconds. However, she failed to repeat the same kind of performance in the finals as she clocked 9:29:64 to finish eighth out of 15 athletes.
Former Olympian and long jumper Anju Bobby George was the first Indian woman to qualify for the final of a field event. In last 12 months, she has shattered her own National record for three times. In June, 2015, Babar bagged a gold medal at the Asian Championships in Wuhan, China by clocking 9:34.13 and thus qualified for the next year’s Olympic Games in Rio De Janerio, the cut-off for qualifying being 9:45.00.
At the Glasgow Commonwealth Games last year, she clocked a time of 9:37.35 to go past Sudha Singh’s National record(9:47.70) and also grabbed the bronze. At the 2014 Asian games in Incheon, South Korea, she won a second consecutive bronze after clocking 9:35.37 in the final round.
Like any other athletes, Babar’s aim would also be to win a medal at Rio but getting on the podium won’t be that easy as she still needs to reduce her timings by at least 8-10 seconds. When Yulia Zaripova of Russia won the gold in the 3000m steeplechase event, she did so with a timing of 9:06:72 seconds. The timings of the athletes who won silver and bronze were 9:08:37 seconds and 9:09:84 seconds respectively.
“To be among the medal contenders, one needs to run under 9:20,” said famous athletics commentator Rahul Pawar. Her personal best and National record of 9:27:86 is currently the 19th best timing of 2015. Tunisian girl Habiba Ghribi holds the record for the best timing this year after clocking 9:05.36s at the Diamond League in Brussels, Belgium last month.
Supported by Anglian Medal Hunt, this middle and long distance runner would surely be one of the best bets for India in Athletics in the multi-sporting event next year.