Gifted Anas continues his meteoric rise

Gifted Anas continues his meteoric rise

Gifted Anas continues his meteoric rise

He is not a student of track history and his only passion is running. So it was no big surprise that Muhammed Anas was unaware of the magnitude of his achievement at the Asian Athletics Championships on Friday night.

Anas became the first Indian to win the men’s 400M at the continental championships in 42 years with his triumph at the Kalinga Stadium. The last man to achieve the feat was Sriram Singh, way back in 1975.

“I had no clue about that achievement. Only this morning, when I saw the newspapers, did I realise that no one other than the two of us had won the 400M gold all these years,” said Anas, with a flicker of wonderment in his eyes.

His achievement deserved extra praise, for the weather was far from conducive and he had already run three races in the championships, including a re-run of the semifinal on Friday morning. “I could have run much better in the final but it was very tough after the semifinal the previous night and the re-run in the morning,” said the 22-year-old sailor in Indian Navy. “I could have clocked a much better timing too (than the 45.77 he did in the final).”

A late starter, Anas’ name has come to the fore only in the last two years. His progress can even be termed meteoric, given the swiftness with which he has gone about breaking records.

Hailing from Nilamel in Kerala’s Kollam district, Anas was a long jumper initially. He was asked to switch to the one-lap race by his coach in pre-university days. Anas’ career then got a real boost after coming under coach Jaya Kumar  at Sreekrishna College in Guruvayoor. From then on, the progress has been quick, with serious improvements in his times. A second-place in All-India inter-university meet and subsequent performances brought him to national reckoning. And under coach Mohd Kunhi at the Indian camp, he improved further.

“The best moment came when I qualified for the Olympic Games in Poland last year. To break the national record two times (45.44 and 45.40) and qualify for the Olympics was a great feeling,” he said.

He didn’t have a memorable Olympics, going out in the first round, but Anas bounced back well this year with another national record – 45.32 – at the Indian Grand Prix in New Delhi. A back injury at the Federation Cup last month then proved to be a setback, forcing him to pull out after the heats, raising a stir.

“I had been having this back issue but some people interpreted it differently. I am much better now after treatment,” he said.

Now that he has proved his form and fitness, Anas aims to do well in the relay here and go under 45 seconds in the future. “I know I can do that but records are not my only aim. I want to improve myself, run my best race and time the best I can. Records will come and go.”

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