Ashwini wants to put past behind

Ashwini wants to put past behind

As M R Poovamma raced around the track to win a silver for India at the 20th Asian Athletics Championships on Thursday, Ashwini Akkunji must have felt her pulse racing up in the stands.

Just three years ago, Ashwini was the dominant force in this event as well as the 400M hurdles in the country. She had won the gold medal in the Asian Games in the hurdles and 4x400 relay after an incredible performance at the Commonwealth Games. She was the toast of the nation.

A few months later, her world came crashing down after a positive dope test. A prolonged hearing process and an appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport by the International Association of Athletics Federations followed before a two-year ban was confirmed last July.
The ban ended on Wed­nesday and the relief of it all was apparent as Ashwini joined her former team-mates here, to watch the competition at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex.
“It is a relief,” said the Udupi girl, who had to go through the mandatory four tests before she was reinstated. “I have gone through all four reinstatement tests and am looking forward to returning to the track,” said the 25-year-old.

It was a difficult period for the athlete who suddenly fell from grace, with barbs flying at her from all directions. “Must have been my fate,” she said, drawing an imaginary line on her forehead. “I want to put behind all that and look to the future,” said the Corporation Bank employee.

Ashwini plans to return to action at the Open Nationals in September. “I will be focusing on the 400M flat now, the hurdles can wait as I need to build a strong base for that,” she said.
The continental championships could have been another of her winning fields had she not failed the dope test but Ashwini said she wasn’t feeling that sad for missing this event.

“I am not feeling that sad. Anyway, the bigger events are all in the near future. There is the Asian Games next year as well as the Commonwealth Games. I need to work hard and focus on those events.”

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