Their two-year bans over, the relay runners who brought doping shame to the country in 2011 are now back on track and in the national camp.
But, M.R. Poovamma doesn’t feel any threat. The Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games are lined up between July and October in Korea and Scotland next year and Poovamma feels that three of the berths in the six-member 4x400 women’s relay team, which includes two reserves, are almost confirmed though there are many more girls now in the fray.
“There should be some changes because the banned athletes have come back. But, I think Anu Mariam, Tintu Luka and I will be there in the relay team,” said the Asian championship 400m silver medallist on the sidelines of the All-India Public Sector Meet here on Friday. “The fight will be for the other berths.”
Poovamma, Tintu and Anu, along with Nirmala, won the Asian championship relay gold in Pune in July and they also ran in the world championship in Moscow in August.Exudes confidence
The country’s fastest one-lap runner now, Poovamma is confident that India will get gold in the mile relay in the Asian Games in Incheon. But, she has a bigger goal.
“We have been getting the relay gold almost every time, we are sure of it but my main aim will be in getting the individual 400m medal,” said the 23-year-old, who hails from Mangalore. “Commonwealth, I can expect one of the three (medals) and Asian Games, I can try for a gold.”
She clocked her personal best, 52.75s in the recent Federation Cup in Patiala and hopes to bring it down to 51.50 year.
“During training, I am much better than what I was last year so I think I can run much faster, probably my best,” she said. “I’ll try my best to break the national record (Manjeet Kaur’s 51.05 which came in 2004) but my target next year is 51.50 and I think it’s achievable.”
There is talk in the circuit that Tintu could be running the 400m along with the 800m next year and Poovamma feels that the Kerala star’s presence will boost the one-lapper in a big way.
“If Tintu takes up 400m seriously, it will push me to much faster timings. She’s a good athlete, she has been giving us good competition…when something like that happens it will help the sport in a big way.”More testing
With athletics coming under close scrutiny, Poovamma says that there is a lot more testing these days. “Now, I am in the Patiala national camp and the NADA usually comes once in two months,” she said.
“They are more strict than before. We don’t know when they’d come. After the Asian championship, I have been tested twice or thrice in Patiala in the last six months.”