Indian quartermiler Nirmala Sheoran arrived back on the scene after a year of “battling personal problems” to qualify for the Asian Games with an impressive timing of 52.36 seconds in the women’s 400m heats of the National Inter-State Senior Athletics Championships in Guwahati on Thursday. Since last year’s World Championships, Nirmala has not run a competitive race and her whereabouts and training place were not known to the Athletics Federation of India (AFI).
But on Thursday, the Haryana athlete did not show any signs of rustiness of a long break as she came first by clocking 52.36 in heat number two at the Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium here. The Asian Games qualifying time for this event set by AFI is 52.47. “I am feeling good at my timing but I am not still 100 per cent, I just recovered from typhoid,” Nirmala, who has a personal best of 51.28, told PTI after the race.
Nirmala, who resurfaced in the last few months, said she was battling personal problems during this phase. “I did not do any suspicious thing. Because of personal and family problems, I went into depression after World Championships. There were illness in my family and other personal problems. I wanted to compete at the Commonwealth Games but then I suffered from typhoid,” she said.
Asked if she had informed AFI about her training place, Nirmala said, “No, I did not give any information to AFI. After the World Championships I was at my village in Dadri (in Haryana) which is near Rajasthan and later I was training alone with my coach Vijender at Bhiwani in Haryana. “I started training only a month back. There is some time before the Asian Games. I hope to do well in Asian Games.”
Her coach Vijender said the target is to win gold in the Asian Games. “Poor girl, she had personal and family problems. She was having typhoid two months back and there were a lot of negative reports about her. Naturally, there was pressure on her. She has come out of all these. Our target is to win gold in the Asian Games. Let us see,” said Vijender. Meawhile, Odisha’s Dutee Chand also qualified for the Asian Games in women’s 100m dash as she clocked 11.42 in one of the heats. The qualifying time set by the AFI for this event is 11.67.
Dutee holds the national record of 11.30 seconds in this event. She has also qualified for the Asian Games in 200m after finishing second behind Hima Das on Wednesday.