Express News Service
BENGALURU: It was around midnight when Priya H Mohan hit the bed after winning the KIUG 400m gold late on Sunday. After just a few hours of sleep, the Karnataka athlete was back at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium around 6 in the morning for the 200m race, which was billed as Dutee Chand, the experienced campaigner, versus Priya, the upcoming star in Indian athletics.
The odds were stacked against the latter with the local girl having less recovery period compared to Dutee, who had last competed on Saturday.
On Monday, one could sense the deep focus on Priya’s face as she knelt down on the starting block. Despite Dutee getting off to a decent start, Priya came back strongly in the second half of the race to win the gold in 23.90s seconds while Dutee settled for silver at 24.02s.
“There was no pressure competing against her (Dutee). But yes, my body had not fully recovered, I had just four hours of sleep last night. I could have done well here with better recovery. My strategy was to catch her in the first 80m or so as I have a stronger finish so that came out well. This win will help my confidence, but the timing did not come out well. I expected a timing of 23.5,” said Priya, who has been making the right noises in the domestic circuit for the last 12 months or so.
The 19-year-old has been constantly improving her timing and achieved her personal best of 52.37s (400m) and 23.85s (200m) in March and April this year, respectively. In fact, before the Tokyo Olympics, she emerged as the fastest woman quarter-miler in the country, defeating the likes of MR Poovamma and others in the inter-state nationals.
Ever since she has been climbing the upward chart as was witnessed with her impressive fourth position finish in the 400m at the U-20 Worlds in Nairobi. She was part of the Indian team, which also won the 4x400m mixed relay then.
The youngster does not have much time to rest. She will be flying to Europe on Tuesday and is expected to primarily compete in the 400m, and could also take part in the 200m at the World Continental Tour, according to her coach Arjun Ajay.
Dutee believes that the young generation, including Priya, is doing well.
“There is a time for everyone. In my generation, I was doing well and remained at the top. That generation is slowly going and their (young) generation is coming up. There are a number of policies, which helps athletes grow. There is international exposure also. I believe the next generation of athletes can win medals in international events,” said Dutee, adding that she is focussing more on 100m.