Lalita Babar smashes national record, qualifies for final

Lalita Babar qualified for the women's 3000m steeplechase final after finishing fourth in the qualifying heat 2 with a national record.

Lalita Babar has qualified for the finals of the 3000m steeplechase final.   -  AP

Lalita Babar clocked a time of 9:19.76 — a national record — in the qualifying heats of the women’s 3000m steeplechase to secure a spot in the final.

However, Sudha Singh — the Guangzhou Asian Games gold medallist, who had traded the national record with Lalita recently — missed out on qualification, with a time of 9:43.29. Lalita was placed fourth in the second heats, while Sudha was ninth in the third heats.

Ruth Jebet of Bahrain, whose disqualification had led to Lalita winning the silver and Sudha the bronze medal in the last Asian Games, led the qualifiers with a time of 9:12.62.

The previous national record was with the 30-year-old Sudha who had clocked 9:26.55 at the IAAF World Diamond League in Shanghai in May, 2016.

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Lalita had clocked 9:27.86 and finished eighth in the last World Championship and will now look to better the mark in the final scheduled for Monday.

Both Sudha and Lalita had qualified for the women's marathon originally, but opted to enhance their chances of a medal by qualifying for the steeplechase event.

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The 21-year-old Nirmala Sheoran, who had clocked a sensational 51.48 seconds in the women’s 400 metres recently, finished 44th after the qualifying rounds with a timing of 53.03 seconds.

Phyllis Francis of the US topped the qualifiers with a time of 50.58 seconds. Nirmala was seventh in the first of the eight heats in the event.

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