Can't believe I clocked below-49, says Asian Games silver medallist Dharun

Dharun Ayyasamy is still in awe of his silver medal-winning run of 48.96 sec in the men’s 400m hurdles silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games.

Dharun Ayyasamy clinched two silver medals at the 2018 Asian Games -- in the men's 400m hurdles and men’s 4x400m relay.   -  R. Ragu

Dharun Ayyasamy, who clinched the men’s 400m hurdles silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta said on Friday that he still finds it unbelievable he was able to clock a timing of below 49 seconds, referring to his medal-winning performance (48.96 sec).

“Clocking 50, 51 (sec) is quite easy. It’s hard to clock below-50. I still can’t believe it (having clocked 48.96s),” he said.

Dharun, along with Arokia Rajiv, spoke on the sidelines of a function organised by the Tamil Nadu Athletic Association (TNAA) to felicitate them for their Asian Games performances. Rajiv won a silver in the 400m mixed relay, while both won silver in the men’s 4x400m relay.

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Dharun had won the men’s 400m hurdles gold in the inter-state athletics meet in Guwahati in June with a new meet record of 49.68s, after setting the then National record (49.45s) in the Federation Cup in May.

“That I was hitting the 49-mark was in itself hard to believe. I thought I’ll try to maintain it. I was actually expecting a 49.1 or 49.2. I don’t know how I’ve managed to clock below that. I’m very happy, of course. The aim now is to hit 48.2-48.3, performances that’ll help one reach the final in the Olympics. According to me, in the Olympic track & field events, reaching the final is in itself a big achievement. So, the aim should be to improve the timing. Not to go for the medals; that will take care of itself,” he said.

Dharun and Arokia Rajiv pose with their Asian Games medals at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Friday.   -  R. Ragu

 

He had bettered Joseph Abraham’s timing for the National record in the Federation Cup. Incidentally, it was Joseph Abraham who had last won an Asian Games medal (gold) for India in the men’s 400m hurdles in 2010.

Joseph had in fact called Dharun and congratulated him on his Asian Games medal. “He (Joseph) called me. He shared his experiences, said I’ll do well for seven or eight more years,” said Dharun.

Dharun had beaten his statemate, “good friend”, and “training partner” Santhosh Kumar Tamilarasan for the gold in Guwahati. Tamilarasan finished fifth in the Asian Games.

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“He’s been a very good training partner. It’s actually because of him that I’ve improved a lot. We’ve been training together for around a year now. We fiercely compete with each other. Either of us try emulate the timing the other sets,” he said.

“Actually, he (Tamilarasan) had been running 50m hurdles for a long time. For around a year or a year and a half. He had been struggling and working hard to clock below-50. He clocked 49.66 (in the Games). So, he’s very happy,” he added.

Dharun had trained under the 72-year-old American Garina P. Bukharina in the Czech Republic as preparation for the Games. On training abroad, he said: “We go to the European countries for the technology and climate. Climate, because, it’s easy for the body to recover there especially after a lot of repetitions (training sessions). The body gets ready easily and quickly for the next session. That’s the main thing. Plus, you have a lot of competitions there. In India, there’ll be, say, three competitions in a year. Whereas, in a European country, there’ll be four-five competitions in a month."

On the coach, he said: "He doesn’t insist on training 'heavy'. For instance, we had a Ukrainian coach for the 2016 Olympics. He used to believe in training heavy. Whereas, with this coach, the training will not be that heavy. By heavy, I mean overload. There’ll not be a lot of repetitions (training sessions), but the intensity (of training) will be high. Even if you run three races, you have to run within a set time.”

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Both Dharun and Rajiv said they’re focussing on the Asian and the World athletics championships before the Olympics. It is doubtful if Dharun’s funding from the TOP (Target Olympic Podium) scheme will extend beyond the Asian Games. He said: “It’s been renewed. From what I know, my name is on the list (for funding under the TOP scheme). But I don’t know the term.”