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Where just one medal will be worth all the others

Where just one medal will be worth all the others

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Published: 10 April 2018 4:32 AM GMT
India has won 19 medals at the CWG so far - nine at weightlifting, seven at shooting, two at table tennis and one at badminton. Some of the most historic achievements by Indians so far in the Commonwealth Games, however, have not been in the sports where there are medals to show. They came in the athletics arena on Monday - from Mohammad Anas, Hima Das and Tejaswin Shankar. Simply the fact that no Indian has medal-ed at their sport at an event of this stature since Milkha Singh is enough to give one an idea of how competitive the field really is. Where one has sprinters from countries like Botswana, Jamaica and Nigeria, the competition is automatically intimidating and a respectable finish seems out of hands. After two disappointing days in Indian athletics which saw the fall of names like Dharun Ayyasamy and Tejinderpal Toor, today, that changed. Not once, but twice. First in the form of Young
Hima Das
, who defied the pelting rain to notch up a timing of 51.53, her personal best, to reach the finals of the Women's 400m run. As if that was not enough, Indian athletics was granted a double boost in the form of Muhammad Anas; a National Record with a finish barely 0.2 seconds behind the prospective Bronze medalist from Jamaica.

Do these two events signal the start of something new for Indian Athletics?

The pelting rain in Gold Coast during both the Men's and the Women's 400m Finals proved to be no deterrent. Rather, for Hima Das who had grown up training in the middy fields of Assam, her superb adaptability may have been her strength in the Semi Final race. In fact, Hima finished 7th overall among those who qualified for the finals. Between the 5th, 6th and 7th places, the gap that separates them is a mere 0.01 seconds each. And what of Muhammad Anas. He has added his name to the long list of prodigious people who have notoriously finished 4th in the past in major athletics competitions. But is that something to be ashamed of? Rather, it's a badge of honour for Muhammad Anas. And the proof of how big this is was seen clearly during his semifinal run
Well into the third quarter of Anas's 400m semifinal
, which he won and qualified for fromTuesday's medal race (5 pm) with the fourth fastest time among finalists, the commentator had a note of incredulity in his voice when he suddenly spotted the blue on the track.

'Look how fast the Indian is running', he exclaimed as Anas crossed the 300m mark.

Such a unique sight was also seen in the 400m women's heats earlier in the tournament, where Hima Das qualified for Tuesday's semifinal. She finished third in her heat, but was at second position for most of the race. Her time of 52.11s keeps her well within contention for the final as well.
Also read:
Hima Das ' The loneliness of a prodigious Indian sprinter Tejaswin Shankar also qualified for the high jump final with the joint best mark of 2.21m.

Why this must be celebrated

A major problem for Indian fans at the CWG has been understanding the true worth of a medal. Mirabai Chanu's gold on the first day attracted much more attention than Pardeep Singh's silver on the last day of weightlifting, though Singh's 352kg lift was an even more spectacular sight. The gold rush can be expected to continue this week in shooting, boxing, wrestling, table tennis and badminton. However, the CWG competition is not as easy in sports like swimming, gymnastics and athletics, where Indians have traditionally not appeared in the medal tally.
No sprinter since Milkha Singh or high jumper has. In recent memory, Mandeep and Manjit Kaur have represented India with some distinction, but it has been MR Poovamma who has been the darling of Indian sprinting. Poovamma failed to qualify on Monday while 18-year-old Hima looked to not break much sweat. Also read: How high can Tejaswin Shankar take us? 19-year-old Tejaswin Shankar had told The Bridge a day before leaving for the CWG that a chosen generation looks to have arrived in Indian athletics. On the proof of Monday's action, a new dawn is indeed upon us.
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