Thingalaya aims podium finish at Commonwealth and Asian Games

Siddhanth Thingalaya, the 110m hurdler, was hopeful of good performances at both events.

Siddhanth Thingalaya... “ I have to achieve the qualifying times for the Commonwealth as well as the Asian Games. I am confident of doing that and also very hopeful of podium finish.”

India’s accomplished 110m hurdler Siddhanth Thingalaya is confident of a podium finish at the next year’s Commonwealth Games and also the Asian Games.

The 26-year-old Mumbai-born athlete, raised in the Andheri suburb, has held the national record in 100m hurdles from June 2012 (13.65 secs at Brussels). Last June, he created a new national record, clocking 13.48 seconds at the IAAF sanctioned Altis Invitational Meet in Phoenix, Arizona. This timing enabled him to qualify for the recent IAAF World Athletics Championships in London. The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) AGM in New Delhi on Saturday is likely to ratify Thingalaya’s new national record.

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In the course of an interaction at the Press Cub in Mumbai on Friday, the 6.3 foot tall Thingalaya said the time had arrived for Indian athletes to garner the world’s attention.

Slow traction

“So far it’s been only Anju Bobby George who won the long jump bronze medal at the 2003 World Championships in Paris. India is a developing nation and sports is slowly gaining traction. The athletes need to do something big to get support from sponsors. I have spent the last seven years in Australia (four years in Gold Coast from 2010) and in from 2014 in California.”

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Thingalaya’s mother - a bank employee - and his father - now retired from service also with a bank - have supported him generously.

“They have been supporting me right through. I was with JSW (a sports training and support institute) for one and half years and OGQ could not support me. It’s Rs. 2,00,000 each month and I pay USD 2,000 annually to my coach Gary Cablayan. Actually, it should have been USD 1,000 a month, but Gary has been kind enough to help me out by asking me pay USD 2,000 for a year. I have approached the AFI to get me into the TOPS (Target Olympic Podium Scheme). I am also trying for sponsors,” said Thingalaya.

‘Hopeful’

The hurdler said the Long Beach-based coach Cablayan, who works with NFL Stars and with five other athletes, was chiefly responsible for his improved performance.

“Now I run consistently in 13.4s. I hit a lot of hurdles in the world championships in London a and hence the focus is on correcting the mistakes I made there. I have to achieve the qualifying times for the Commonwealth as well as the Asian Games. I am confident of doing that and also very hopeful of podium finish. I am the first Indian to run in the 110m hurdles at the IAAF World Championships. I have also qualified for the World Indoor Championships (60m hurdles) in Birmingham next March. I have been into indoors for two years and clocked 7.70 seconds at the UW Indoor Preview in Seattle this year.”

Thingalaya believes Omar McLeod, the Jamaican Olympic and world champion in 110m hurdles, may choose to participate in the World Indoors at Birmingham next March and not the Commonwealth Games.

“There are a few more from U.K. and Australia, but the Jamaicans are better when it comes to the Commonwealth Games. I am also looking to win a medal. I did a 13.43 at an event in San Diego, but in illegal wind assistance conditions. There will be the Chinese, Japanese and Kuwait hurdlers at the Asian Games. I would say I have chance of winning a medal at both races,” he said.