P.T. Usha is pleased with the performance of her protégé, Tintu Luka in the Olympics. The 800m runner clocked a sub-two-minute timing for only the second time in her career to finish overall 11th, going out in the London Games semifinals.

Tintu did her season best of 1:59.69 in the semifinals but managed only the sixth place in a fast heat won by South African Caster Semenya, who eventually took the silver. But for the 23-year-old Indian it was not enough to get a place in the final.

Apart from Tintu, in the 14-member Indian athletics squad, only walkers K.T. Irfan (20km, 10th place) and Basanta Bahadur Rana (50km, 36th) returned season bests. Irfan and Rana, in fact, bettered National records.

In good form

Usha said on arrival on Monday that with adequate exposure her ward could have done better. “She has done well. Running under two minutes is not easy. She is in very good form. If she could have got two or three good competitions (in the run-up to the Olympics), she could have done even better,” said Usha.

Usha said exposure to quality competitions could help Tintu master the nuances of the crafty race. “The 800m is such a tactical race that you need more good races (to return a better timing). I tried my best to get her higher level competitions. She is good and is capable of running under 1:58. But you have to run the (right) races to get the result. That is not happening here.”

According to Usha, Tintu held a lot of promise for the future. “She is happy (with her showing). Every time she ran in standard competitions, like the World Cup, world championship, Diamond League, she did very well. If she gets good competitions, she will do well,” said Usha.

Usha said that in the fastest of the three semifinals in London, with the Kenyan taking the runners through an opening lap of 57.36, Tintu was bound to have problems on the finishing straight since she normally did not run such a fast first lap.

“She was close to the leaders for the first lap. Had she run slightly slower she might have had a chance for a better finish and even a better timing. But then when the others are going at that pace, you can’t slow down. Because there would always be the possibility of you being left well behind,” Usha said.

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