For the last two years, Annu Rani had been floundering in wilderness. The national javelin throw champion failed to even come close to her past performances, struggled to even cross the 55m mark and was even considered past her best. On Sunday, she put all her demons to rest with a 62.34m throw at the Federation Cup here – good enough to erase all the previous records held by her and qualify for both the Asian and World Championships.

“I cannot point out any one reason. I was doing well in training, managing even 64m, but could not do the same in competition. I can only say it was a period of struggle for me. There were technical flaws that I am working on now and when you have poor performance for a long time, it stays in the back of your mind. I know people said I was finished but that always happens in sports, I don’t care,” Annu said after the event.

It was her only throw past 60m but when your nearest competitor is nine metres behind, even your worst show is good enough. It also highlighted the gap in the sport in India. “It matters. In men, there is now a bunch of throwers all in the same range and everyone is improving. Till two years back, my senior Suman Devi was doing very well and it used to push me a lot. Without competition, your mind and body become loose,” Annu said.

It wasn’t easy, though, she admitted. “My hand release speed is slow, my run up is not good. But once you are set in your technique, it is very difficult to change even if you know what is wrong. But I am trying to put more focus now,” she said.

Annu’s was the only impressive performance on the day but in terms of competition, the men’s 10000m was the closest affair so far. While Murli Kumar Gavit won the race, the top-five finishers all managed to finish well under the Asian meet qualifying time of 29 minutes and 50 seconds. The national record, though, remained out of bounds.