Dharun Ayyasamy made headlines after he bagged two silver medals in the 400 metres category at the Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018. After clinching a silver in the Men's 4x400 metre relay, the Tamil Nadu athlete came second in the individual 400 metre hurdles event with a timing of 48.96 seconds, a national record. The 23-year-old now has his eyes firmly set on qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. If Ayyasamy does seal his spot, it will be his second Olympics appearance after his debut for India in the 2016 Rio Games.
In an exclusive interview with The Bridge Tamil, Ayyasamy narrated his struggles with injury and spoke at length about his shin bone stress fracture that reduced and interrupted his 2019 season.
After a successful 2018, the athlete spent the next year recuperating to be fit for the Olympics, though he refused to go under the knife.
"I have been running with pain since 2016. I was in pain even during my silver medal feats at the Asian Games in 2018. The doctors had advised me surgery but that would have meant that I had to sit out for at least 10 months. I could not miss my practice sessions ahead of the Olympic Qualifiers, and so I opted against having a surgery. I have, thus, changed my athletic training to reduce the pain in my leg, and I am confident that I can run better," said Ayyasamy.
Ayyasamy has been out of action since September 2019, but is all geared up to participate in the Olympic Qualifiers, where he is eager to turn out in both the men's 4x400 metre relay and the 400 metre hurdles event.
"Though the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) have advised me to prepare for just the men's individual 400 metre hurdle event, I am eager to take part in the team event as well." adds Ayyasamy.
The qualifying time for the 2020 Olympic Games for the 400 metre hurdle has been set at 48.90 seconds, a time that Ayyasamy had already crossed in the 2019 Patiala Athletics Championships; thus becoming the first athlete from India to cross the 400 metre hurdle with that timing.
Unfortunately for Ayyasamy the cut-off timing for the Olympics was revealed after the event in Patiala hence he will now have to repeat his feat in order to book his ticket for the show piece event.
Ayyasamy, has shifted his training base from Patiala to Kerala.
"I am more comfortable training in Kerala as it is closer to my hometown of Tiruppur. I am also accustomed to the food and the weather down in the south, hence, I took the decision to train in Kerala, I hope to play in the Olympic Qualification events from March, and I am looking forward to making a strong comeback," Ayyasamy concluded.