Sayana hoping to do a Vismaya, focusing on quartermile

There are interesting quartermile battles in store with many majors lined up in next two years including the 2021 Olympics.

Sayana and coach Avinash.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Three years ago, V.K. Vismaya produced a stunning performance in the National varsities championship in Guntur which carried her to the national camp and the Indian team. She was an unknown name then but a few months after her Guntur show, the young girl went on to anchor the Indian 4x400m relay team to gold at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games and is now a crucial member of the side.

P.O. Sayana is dreaming of such a run these days. With under-20 World champion Hima Das suffering a strange injury that allows her to run the 200m but troubles her in the 400m, and another regular Saritaben Gayakwad out with a mysterious problem, there could be a vacancy or two in the Indian team with many majors, including the 2021 Olympics, lined up in the next two years. Prachi Chaudhary, who was in the silver-winning Indian side at last year's Doha Asians, has also been forced out after failing a dope test.

READ| Coronavirus: Postponed Olympics ‘to kickstart’ Japan economy, says IOC

Opportunity

Sensing a wonderful opportunity, Sayana has now decided to get serious about the quartermile. “I was only a 400m hurdler before but this year, I decided to take the 400m very seriously at the national level,” said Sayana, in a chat with Sportstar, from Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday.

“I have such a dream too (like Vismaya's). In the 400m, there is a good chance of getting into the Indian team and the team is sure of winning Asian Games and Asian medals.”

With the coronavirus pandemic messing up the athletics season the world over, Sayana strangely finds herself in the second rung in the Asian women's 400m chart this year with her 53.99s at the Khelo India University Games in Bhubaneswar in February. CRPF's 27-year-old Ayana Thomas, who comes up with impressive timings in Olympic years (2016 best 53.90s), is on top of the list with a personal best 53.34s which came while winning the all-India Police meet gold in Panchkula last month.

Sayana is now waiting for the Athletics Federation of India's call to join the national camp in Patiala. “Earlier, whenever somebody ran 54 secs, they were immediately invited to the national camp, I have done better than that but I have not got a call yet,” said Sayana, who is coached by Kerala Sports Council's Avinash Kumar in Kollam.

READ| Mascot for Hangzhou 2022 Asian Para Games unveiled

Close fight

“When I won the varsities Nationals gold, I was told my performance would not be counted as there was no dope-testing there. I was tested after I won the Khelo India University Games gold so I'm waiting for the call.”

V.K. Vismaya, Jisna Mathew and M.R. Poovamma appear to be the favourites to take the first three berths in the relay team and it will be interesting to see how the others fight their way through.

With things likely to get very hot in the women's quartermile, the National Anti-Doping Agency should also be up to the challenge with many out-of-competition tests when training resumes in national camps. The post-lockdown days should keep them very alert and busy.