Lalita Babar created history by becoming the first female athlete since PT Usha to reach an Olympic track and field final. She finished fourth in heat 2, and broke the national record by registering a time of 9 minutes 19.76 seconds. The 27-year old clipped close to seven seconds off the previous timing set by Sudha Singh, who failed to qualify for the finals finishing 30th among the 52 competitors.
Speaking exclusively to Sportskeeda, Lalita said, “I have gone much faster than this timing in training. I’m confident of setting a national record and entering the top in the finals. I was very comfortable on track and gave it my 100 %. I’m quite sure that this timing can be improved as I’ve touched the 9:10 mark in training only last month and once while training in Rio as well.” The fasest timing in the heats belonged to Ruth Jebet of Bahrain, who clocked 9.12.61, could essentially put her in the medal placings.
She added, “For the past two months we have been training non stop, hence I could set such timings. I actually thought I would easily make top three. But, now my goal is to get a better timing. A bit sad Sudha didn’t make it as we both trained together for the past two years, but that’s sport and it can be brutal sometimes. If I can replicate what I’ve been doing in training, a top 5 shouldn’t be very difficult. However, I know training is very different from ”
The Asian Games bronze medallist also spoke about how she has made several changes to her technique. She added, “Both me and Coach Sir have been working on changing my technique as we realised we weren’t going any faster. I made some changes to my action, to better my aerodynamics and that has helped a lot. That is why I could touch 9.10 in training. I’m hoping to bring that style in the final.”
Lalita’s main competitors are going to be Beatrice Chepkoech of Kenya, Emma Coburn of USA, Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa and Gesa Felicitas. She thrashed her previous personal best by 10 seconds, which she set during the Federation Cup. The final is scheduled for August 15 at 11:15 local time.Published 14 Aug 2016, 02:45 IST