City hurdler Siddhant Thingalaya will make his comeback to national-level events after a six-month injury lay-off during the Federation Cup National Senior Athletics Championship which begins in Patiala tomorrow. With an eye on the 14th World Championships in Athletics later this year in Moscow, Thingalaya hopes to impress in Patiala.
The 22-year-old, who holds the national record (13.65s) in 110m hurdles, missed the Olympic ‘B’ qualification mark by 0.5 seconds due to a hamstring injury he suffered during the Belgian championships in Brussels last year.
“It was frustrating to suffer an injury during the ninth hurdle and I limped to the finish line. It was even more disappointing as Australian 100m hurdles gold medallist Sally Pearson had come to watch me at Belgium.
I have an uphill task this season as 13.50s is the ‘B’ qualifying mark while 13.40s is the ‘A’ qualifying mark for the World Championship, but I’m staying positive,” said Thingalaya, who was in the city last week to meet his family.
He also had a warm-up session last Friday at the Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) Kandivli campus, where he used to practice till 2008, before heading to Patiala.
Thingalaya, who is funded by Jindal Steel Works (JSW), though wants to tread carefully. “I don’t want to rush into things in over-confidence. After the Patiala nationals, I will go back to Australia and train (under Australian coach Sharon Hannan).
I want to work on my speed. I will be back in India in June for the inter-state nationals. But my aim this time is to do well in the World Championships,” said the 6’3” tall Thingalaya who clocked 13.69 seconds during the nationals last April — the fastest by an Indian on home soil.
Meanwhile, on the eve of his comeback, former Olympian and Arjuna awardee Edward Sequeira, who represented India in the 5000m at the 1972 Munich Olympics heaped praise on the youngster.
“Anyone can make it big at the Olympics. I refuse to believe that India’s modest history will forever stop anyone from winning. 2016 will be different, and Sid will be doing some great things... he is the future of Indian athletics. He will put Mumbai on the international map soon,” said Sequeira.