In 2014, India won 13 medals in all from track and field events, which included two golds. In 2018, into the third day of the athletics, India have 8 medals in the bag already.
As per the Athletics Federation of India’s internal predictions, 18-20 medals should come home from Indonesia. We can’t say that till the competition ends, and there are plenty of events left, but it’s the quality that counts as much as the quantity.
Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra has got better at almost every meet this year. The world’s best throwers, all from Germany, believe he can breach the 90m mark this year itself, but Neeraj wants to work towards it in the build up to the Olympics without rushing himself. On Monday, competing amidst a rather ordinary field, and having almost sealed gold with his third throw of the final with a new national record of 88.06m, Chopra had a great chance to go for 90m. In his last throw he fouled. But it’s work in progress, he knows that. Seven 85m plus throws this year is some serious progress and consistency from the 20 year old.
A diminutive Dutee Chand ran the race of her life and almost won gold in the 100m. She missed it by 0.02s. The 100m is an event Indians traditionally don’t train or perform well in too much. But Dutee’s silver show was right up there in terms of quality, and this is going to be a huge boost in her Olympic preparation.
Hima Das isn’t thinking of medals, but she’s winning them nevertheless, while improving her timing with each race. Over the weekend, she became the first Indian to run a sub 51 en route her silver. Barring the Junior World Championships in August where she won gold, in every race this year, Hima has run faster than the previous one. That’s something athletes take years to do – shaving off fraction of seconds from their best timing to get better. Her coaches say Hima is not even close to her top potential.
Jinson Johnson is in the form of his life, and you could definitely count him in as a medal prospect in the 800m and 1500m. Also, the women’s relay team could be in for a medal. Best to not bet gold on them, even though they’ve won it traditionally, as Bahrain’s quarter milers are truly the best in Asia.
Whether or not India win more medals than last time, the hunt for medals appears more real this time around. And most importantly, India’s track and field stars are getting noticed now than ever before. Backing their record making and record breaking performances is tremendously positive attitude and body language, that’s made them twitter trends ever so often. How often have you associated the word ‘swag’ with an Indian track and field star? You’ll have to think hard to come up with names. With the current crop, that’s set to change, as they get faster, higher, stronger.