India witnessed its best ever showing at World Athletics Championships in Eugene.Never before 6 Indian athletes reached the finals at Worlds.Star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra done India proud by winning historic silver.However apart from Neeraj,there were a handful of other athletes who raised the bar.Just take a look at 4 track and field disciplines in which we made improvements over past performances.
Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra was a medal contender(some expected gold) in Eugene.He was in top form coming into Worlds.He beat world champion Anderson Peters twice.He throwed over 86m many times showing consistency since making a return to competition after Tokyo Olympics.So when big event comes,Neeraj delivers.He did so by winning silver with best of 88.3m effort felling behind only of Anderson Peters who won gold with 90.45m.Neeraj thus fulfilled entire country’s expectations as he became only second Indian after Anju Bobby George to win a medal at Worlds.What’s more Neeraj’s teammate Rohit Yadav too impressed as he reached the final for the first time in his debut World Championships.However inexperience at such global meet proved as he finished 10th with best throw of 78.72m.In women’s event,Annu Rani bettered her previous show at World Championships in 2019 by finishing seventh with 61.12m best effort in the final.
Avinash Sable qualified for his second straight final at World Championships in 3000m steeplechase.However in the slowest ever race his tacticts proved wrong as he finished 11th in a strong 15 men field.His timing of 8.31.75s was way below his personal best of 8.12.48s.But 27 year old from Maharashtra has learnt a lot during the race and will be hoping for a medal at CWG in Birmingham.
Murali Shreeshankar became first Indian to qualify for Long Jump final at Worlds.He eventually finished seventh with 8meter jump.Other Indians-Jeswin Aldrin and Muhammed Yahiya failed to make it to finals.
There was another first for India in triple jump as Eldhose Paul became the first from country to reach final in triple jump.His best effort of 16.79m was below his personal best.25 year old had to face visa issues before arriving late in Eugene.
Other Indian track athletes including 4*400m men’s relay team disappointed as they finished 12th overall failing to make the final.Star female sprinter S Dhanlaxmi was forced to pull out of World Championships after failing a dope test.
So overall,India had their most successful outing at World Championships this time.Gone are the days when we had a small number of athletes representing at Worlds.Now more and more Indian athletes not only just qualify for World Championships but believe they can reach finals as well.What’s more some of them raise hopes of a historic medal.If groomed at grassroot level and given foreign exposure both in training and competitions,Indian track and field talents will succeed at major events.They will compete against top athletes in the world with renewed hope and confidence.Milkha Singh,P T Usha,Shiny Wilson,Anju George and now Neeraj Chopra…..Hopefully names will be added to the winners list in the near future.
By Shailesh Padhye