Ayyasamy endures shin pain to win 400m hurdles, eyes Olympics

Tamil Nadu’s 400 metre hurdles national record holder Dharun Ayyasamy endured pain of shinbone stress fracture to win the 400 metre hurdles title in the inaugural Indian Grand Prix (IGP) athletics at Patiala’s National Institute of Sports (NIS) on Thursday.

Ayyasamy’s winning time of 51.33 seconds though was far slower than the this year’s Olympic Games qualification time of 48.90 seconds.

Aftab Alam of Uttar Pradesh finished second in 51.56 sec while K Sathish of Tamil Nadu was third with 52.12 sec.

The 24-year-old athlete, who won silver at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games in the same event, exuded confidence of improving his time in the coming weeks.

“I’m back to track after a long break due to pandemic. The IGP is the season’s first race, but I’m hopeful of better performance in May or June,” Ayyasamy told IANS after the race.

For Ayyasamy, who holds the national 400m hurdles record with 48.80 seconds, earning berth for Tokyo Olympic Games is one of the goals of this season.

“I’ve done better than Olympic qualification time in 2019, and should be successful in achieving a good time before June,” he said.

After setting a national record in March 2019 in Patiala, Ayyasamy was sidelined due to injury. It temporarily halted his progress as he bowed out of the first round of the 2019 Doha World Championships.

“The World Championship was a good opportunity to win a berth for the Tokyo Olympics, but wasn’t able to train hard due to shin pain,” he said.

According to Ayyasamy, shin pain has been since the last four years.

“Medical experts have advised surgery on shin bone to get rid of the pain. I’m not interested in going under the surgeon’s knife as it’s uncertain whether I would get any relief from it or not. There is always a mild pain though it does aggravate sometimes. The pain sometimes disappears after the warmup,” said the low hurdler.

In April last year, the World Athletics had frozen the Tokyo Olympic qualification till November 2020. “At the moment it looks uncertain whether we would get international exposure. Since domestic competition has started, it would be a good platform to push hard,” he said.