Russia's ban was needed

[Russians] were cheating the rest of us for so many years. Only we can understand what that pain is like.

'I want to watch Usain Bolt’s magic again.'   -  AP

I am pleased that there will be no Russians competing in track and field this time. They were cheating the rest of us for so many years. Only we can understand what that pain is like.

I am eagerly looking forward to the athletics events this time. India has a few good performers; it is possible for us to make the final in three or four events.

Should the steeplechasers (Sudha Singh and Lalita Babar), the jumpers (Ankit Sharma and Renjith Maheshwary), and the men’s 4x400m relay team repeat the efforts that saw them qualify, they will be in the final. Even the 800m runner (Tintu Luka) has a chance. I’m expecting good things from the walkers too.

But only after the first round will we get a better idea of how the track events will unfold. Ankit did 8.19 (long jump) and Renjith 17.3 (triple jump) recently, but they have to repeat those marks. Athletics is hard to predict; anything can happen on that given day.

My favourite athletics events at the Olympics are the men’s 100 and 200m finals. I want to watch Usain Bolt’s magic again. I will definitely follow the long jump too. Anything over 7m should be good enough for a women’s medal.

In 2004, I too was ready to jump over 7, but I was bothered by an upper respiratory tract infection and could only manage 6.83. I still feel 6.83 was good enough for a medal that day.

The top three were all Russians (Tatyana Lebedeva, Irina Simagina, and Tatyana Kotova). They were later suspended for doping but they were not caught for their Olympics performances. I’m still hopeful that those results will be expunged and my position will be upgraded from fifth. The whole of India was waiting for a medal from me that day.

As told to Shreedutta Chidananda