400m runner Nirmala Sheoran sets Bhubaneswar track ablaze

Jul 08, 2017, 13:00 IST | G Rajaraman

For long, she was thought to be inconsistent but the kind of results that Nirmala Sheoran has scripted in the past month – come shine or rain, as was the case yesterday at the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships at the Kalinga Stadium

Nirmala Sheoran. PIC/AFP
Nirmala Sheoran. PIC/AFP

For long, she was thought to be inconsistent but the kind of results that Nirmala Sheoran has scripted in the past month – come shine or rain, as was the case yesterday at the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships at the Kalinga Stadium – will remove the doubts in the minds of many and gained undisputed ownership of the mantle of India's top woman quarter-miler.

Despite a thunder-shower delaying the start of her race, the 21-year-old set off India's gold-rush on the second day of competitions, sprinting on a wet track to come home in 52.01 seconds. Even her critics would concede that the steady drizzle prevented the National record-holder from dipping in under 52 seconds.

Hailing from Bhiwani district, Nirmala set the National mark at 51.28 second in scorching heat in Patiala on June 4.

Unlike last year when her performance dipped after she recorded a 51.48-second effort in Hyderabad ahead of the Olympic Games, the quality of her run yesterday reinforced her claims of consistency. She had breezed to a 52.79 time in qualification a day earlier.

She got off to a good start and set the pace, even while opening up a handsome lead by the 150m mark. It was clear then that Vietnam's Quach Thi Lam Vie – Asian Games silver medallist – and the other two Indians, 18-year-old Jisna Mathew and the vastly experienced MR Poovamma would be fighting for the other medals.

Nirmala did not let up on the home stretch, powering her way ahead, almost in solitude.

Behind her, the Vietnamese gained on the Indian pair, leaving PT Usha's ward Jisna Mathew to edge out two-time Asian Championships silver medallist Poovamma in her wake.

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