Despite being one of the world’s best 800m runners, Tintu Luka came across some surprise hurdles at home a few days ago as she got ready for a new season.
Though she was invited to run in the recent Asian Grand Prix meets in Thailand and Sri Lanka, she was not allowed to go for these events by the Athletics Federation of India as she did not compete in national meets.
Tintu will now be opening her season at the strong and prestigious IAAF Diamond League meet in Shanghai on Saturday.
Her coach P.T. Usha had wanted the country’s best middle-distance runner to slowly get into form through the Asian GP meets but with the AFI’s Selection Committee stopping Tintu, her plans went awry.
“Tintu is slowly coming into form, that’s how she begins a year which has some major international meets but I’m sad that the Diamond League will be her first meet of the season,” said Usha before leaving for China.
“It’s a world-class meet and I would have liked her to run in a couple of races like the Asian GP meets before the Diamond League”
The Shanghai Diamond League meet has a world-class field including Kenya’s seasoned star Janeth Jepkosgei, a former World champion and Olympic silver medallist, and former Olympics gold medallist Pamela Jelimo who has the fastest personal best (1:54.01s) among the 12 runners in the fray.
“Janeth normally runs a very controlled race, she has years of experience,” said Usha. “She plans things very well, she doesn’t raise or reduce the pace suddenly.”
There are four runners in the Shanghai field who are faster than Tintu — who was 11th in the London Olympics with the season best last year (personal best 1:59.17s) — in the provisional list for the event.
“She has not started all-out races…and running with fellow-trainees and running in competition are very different,” said Usha. “But it’s not easy to get entry in a world-class meet like this, so I’ve told her to use it well.”
Tintu’s early-season form appears to be very promising.
“She’s in the 1:59.8 to 2:02 range...if she runs a calculated race and doesn’t commit a mistake, she could run between 1:59.8 to 2:00,” said her coach. “And if she does commit a mistake, it could go to 2:02.”
A two-minute race will help her qualify for the World championship in Moscow in August with an ‘A’ standard and 2:01.50 or faster will see her make the grade with a ‘B’ standard.
The timings have to come before July 29 for runners to make the entry standard for Moscow.
Tintu is also likely to run in a couple of meets in Africa next month before the Asian championship in July.
Keywords: Tintu Luka