‘Vismaya can go below 52s before Tokyo Olympics’

V.K. Vismaya has flown under the radar as the most improved woman athlete this year.

Vismaya with the baton during the 2018 Asian Games 4x400m relay.   -  PTI

Hima Das may be the toast of the country after winning five gold in European meets in the last few weeks but it is V.K. Vismaya who is India’s most improved woman athlete this year.

Vismaya has bettered her 400m personal best thrice within the last one month in meets in Poland and the Czech Republic, running her maiden sub-53s time with her 52.58s in Goleniow on June 26 and then bringing it down to 52.54 and 52.48 in Kladno and Nove Mesto nad Metuji on July 13 and 20. Her best before these meets was the 53.27s in the Federation Cup in Patiala in March.

READ: Vismaya, Poovamma to run in Poland

“Each meet she runs a PB (personal best)… also in the 200,” Galina Bukharina, the national coach for the quartermile and the relays, told Sportstar from the Indian team’s training base in Spala, Poland.

Incidentally, the quality of the meets in Poland the Czech Republic where Hima Das and Vismaya figured was virtually the same as the India’s national championships. And in a few meets, Indians competed against themselves. Still, Vismaya was able to raise her standard.

Coach not surprised

Bukharina said she was not surprised by Vismaya’s stunning progress and felt the 22-year-old was capable of crossing another major milestone within a year.

“I’m not surprised, she will go below 52s within a year, around the Tokyo Olympics time… that is our target too,” said the Russia-born American.

READ: Gold for Hima, bronze for Vismaya

That should be very good news for the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) which feels the 4x400m relay team can do wonders in the Tokyo Olympics which, incidentally, is just a year away.

But Vismaya will offer no promises.

“I will try,” was Vismaya’s answer the other day when one asked her whether she felt she was capable of doing a sub-52 time within the next few months.

Vismaya’s life has seen one big surprise after another in last couple of years.

When one met the young girl around a year and half ago at the varsities National meet in Guntur, she had not even run in any of the Afi’s national championships.

She had been running in varsities meets but did not think she was good enough for the big stage. But the Guntur meet, where Vismaya had given the then Asian bronze medallist Jisna Mathew a scare in the 400m and had beaten her in the 200m, changed her attitude and life.

Perfect timing

That performance opened many doors for the young girl. She was fortunate, too, for her impressive performances were timed perfectly. With the then Asian champion Nirmala Sheoran missing for months together and with many quartermilers skipping national camps, the AFI made it clear that athletes who skip national camps would not be included in the relay teams. That worked in the favour of Vismaya.

Eight months later, she was anchoring the Indian women’s 4x400m relay team to gold at the Asian Games in Jakarta.

Vismaya has sealed her place in the relay team and will now be setting bigger targets.