Athletics

‘The 400m could change my life,’ says Dhanalakshmi

Dhanalakshmi .  

When S. Dhanalakshmi made her 400m debut at the Olympics trials in Patiala on Sunday, she felt good in the first 200m and thought the next half would go well too. But in the last 100m, she realised how difficult the quarter-mile was.

“After 300m, everything sort of switched off. I felt like I didn’t have any energy left. I’ve never run more than 300m before,” said the 23-year-old National 100m champion, who made the Indian 4x400m mixed relay team to the Tokyo Olympics after that run, in a chat with The Hindu from Patiala on Tuesday.

Coach’s encouragement

When Russian Galina Bukharina, the quarter-milers and relay teams’ national coach, asked her to do the 400m trials, Dhanalakshmi felt that she should make the most of it.

“Since my chances in the 100m and (4x100m) relay were over, I thought I’d have to wait another four years for the Olympics. Then our coach said, ‘I will give you another chance, you try to finish at least third in the trials, I will surely take you to the Olympics’,” said the sprinter from Tiruchi who had shocked National record-holder Dutee Chand and Hima Das for the National 100m gold.

 

“In the last 50m, my mind was just saying, ‘Olympics, Olympics’. It was close and I pushed my head forward and finished third. Running the 400m and going to the Olympics...this is something unimaginable. How can I even dream such a thing.”

Bukharina was thrilled too.

“After the trials, she told me I should concentrate on the 400m. That I would surely run in 52s if I train hard,” said Dhanalakshmi who had an impressive varsities debut three years ago.

The quarter-mile now appears sweeter to the youngster who entered the national camp in March.

Better chance

“In 100, you will go places only if you clock 11s. In 400m, you have the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games and a better chance of winning medals in relays so I’m wondering whether to shift to the 400m. It could change my life in a big way.”

At school (Abbot Marcel RC HSS), Dhanalakshmi used to do well at the zonal and district-level there. “But I used to finish last or close to that in State meets,” she said.

It was only when she reached college (SRC, Tiruchi) that she felt the need for systematic training. “So I joined Manikandan Arumugam’s group a few years ago.”

That has transformed her life.


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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 10:42:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/athletics/the-400m-could-change-my-life-says-dhanalakshmi/article35179121.ece

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