NEW DELHI: Long distance runner Sudha Singh, who was picked for the Padma Shri within the 2021 honours’ checklist, is so fiercely focussed on her dream of successful an Olympic medal that she hasn’t visited house in Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh, for nicely over a yr — and has been coaching in nationwide camp.
The final time, 34-year-old Sudha, a former nationwide 3,000 metres steeplechase file holder however is now concentrating on marathon, visited house was in December 2019. Mobile cellphone is her closest companion for retaining in contact along with her family.
“They used to come to meet me. Lockdown started around March last year, and it is going to be a year to that. I last went home long before that, in December 2019. But I speak to my family daily,” Sudha instructed IANS in an interview from the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Southern Centre, Bengaluru.
Sudha’s family used to go to her on the nationwide camp when it was on the National Institute of Sport (NIS) in Patiala earlier than the coronavirus-enforced lockdown in March 2020 stopped their visits. “That has stopped because of coronavirus. I don’t really remember the last time I have seen them face to face,” she mentioned.
To stay in contact along with her family, Sudha makes do with cellphone calls recurrently. “I speak to them daily and they used to come to meet me. Lockdown started in March and it is going to be a year to that too but I last went home long before that,” she mentioned.
Although Sudha is now focussed on marathon, she has an enviable file within the 3,000m steeplechase. She received gold on the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games and on the 2017 Asian Championships in Bhubaneswar. She has additionally received silver on the 2011, 2017, and 2019 Asian Championships and on the 2018 Asian Games. She represented India on the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and was conferred the Arjuna Award in 2012.
Sudha could be 35 by the point the postponed 2020 Olympics begins on July 23 in Tokyo. Age, nevertheless, was an element that she had defied within the current previous when she received the three,000 steeplechase silver on the 2018 Asiad. However, steeplechase has taken a backseat, going into the Olympics and he or she is seeking to meet the qualification mark for the marathon.
With an Olympic medal on thoughts, Sudha has at the moment set her eyes on the 42.195km New Delhi Marathon that’s scheduled to happen within the first week of February.
“This would be my third Olympics. I am fit, and now I just need competitions to qualify. Like other athletes, my ultimate aim is to win an Olympic medal. At the marathon, I am looking to break the national record and try and qualify with the timings. After that we will decide upon what is available for steeplechase,” mentioned Sudha.
Punjab’s O.P. Jaisha’s two hours, 34:43 sec, set in August 2015 in Beijing whereas Sudha’s finest timing is 2 hours 34:56 sec on the Mumbai Marathon on January 20, 2019. Sudha should enhance a lot on her finest timing to satisfy the Olympic qualifying mark, which is 2 hours 29.30 secs.
Sudha is at the moment coaching on the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Southern Centre, Bengaluru. It was there that she acquired the information of her being included within the checklist for this yr’s Padma Shri. Six sportspersons, together with Sudha, and a coach are this yr’s recipient of the honour.
“I was sitting with a few other athletes at the hostel here [on Monday] when I got the news. I never thought that I would be getting the award, because so many people apply for it,” she mentioned.
Sudha comes from the small city of Raebareli. She had her major college training there, and admits nearly sheepishly that she was by no means too concerned with teachers.
“There was a SAI centre close by so I used to represent my school in events there. I used to win most of the time over there and so their scouts came home and told my family that I have the potential to do well in athletics,” she mentioned.
“In 2001, I was selected for the SAI centre in Agra. I was very happy that I was being able to make my way in this field because it meant that I didn’t need to study any longer. My father was working in Industrial Telephone Industries Ltd, and he basically said since she had no interest in academics, let her do athletics,” she recalled.
Sudha was about 19, in 2006, when she began working steeplechase. “I started out in the sport after I joined the Railways and started representing them in events. Before that I used to do long distance running. But when I started representing the Railways in competitions I was finding it difficult to get entry in long distance events. The 3,000m steeplechase was a relatively new event and there was hardly anyone taking part in it, so I decided to go for it. It took time to adjust, and in my first few races I was finishing last. But I worked my way up and in 2007 broke the national record in 3,000m steeplechase,” she mentioned.
In 2012, Sudha was conferred the Arjuna Award. And, now, she is making ready to compete in her third Olympic Games — with an eye on the rostrum.