Luka looking for sub 2 min timing in Continental Cup: Usha

Luka is taking part in the September 3-4 IAAF event for the first time in her career. This event was earlier known as the World Cup of Athletics. Two best athletes of the season from four continental groupings -- Asia Pacific, Africa, Americas and Europe -- will compete in each event. There will be 20 events in women's section in the Continental Cup.

The other athlete, besides Luka, in 800m race from Asia and Pacific is Hamblin Nikki of New Zealand who has a best effort of 2:00.96 this season, the best in Asia Pacific. Luka is the leading athlete in 800m race in Asia this season with her career personal best of 2:01.24 which she recorded last month in the All Star Athletics Meet here.

Usha is upbeat that her ward from the academy at Palakkad in Kerala will get a huge boost in her aim for a Commonwealth Games medal by taking part in the top flight event in Croatia.

"It is a top flight event among the best in the world. Only eight athletes will participate there. Luka is the number one Asian in 800m this season so far. It is going to give a huge boost to her confidence for the Commonwealth Games and other events coming up," Usha told PTI from Kerala.

"I am hoping a sub two minute performance from Luka in Croatia. Most of the athletes there have timings in the bracket of one minute 58 sec or one minute 59 sec. So Luka will be competing among the best in the world," she added.

A sub two minute performance could mean that Shiny Wilson's 1:59.85 sec national record set 15 years ago could be in threat. Usha said the main benefit from the Croatia event will be that Luka will be able to assess herself against the best in the world, especially in the second lap.

"Her first lap is OK. The problem is the second lap timing. Here in India since the competition is lacking she is not being pushed to the limit in the second lap. Now in Croatia she will get the chance to improve upon her second lap as she will be running with the best in the world," Usha said.

"So I am very happy that her career will get a big boost from here," she added. Luka had a 58.2 sec in her first lap in Asian All Star Meet here and she had taken more than one minute two seconds in her second lap. Usha had then said that her ward would be able to run sub 57 second in the first lap.

Luka will also take part in the Brussels Diamond League before the Croatia event on September 27 and that will give her the perfect preparation for the Croatia event. "She is running in Brussels in Belgium on September 27 and that will give her the preparation for Croatia," Usha, who will accompany Luka in both the events, said.

Luka will leave for Belgium on September 24 and she will return home before departing for Croatia on September 1. "I have also been asked by the Asian Athletics Federation to accompany Luka as coach in Croatia and this is going to be a big event for Luka," she said.

National record holder in men's triple jump Renjith Maheswary will be the other Indian in Croatia. He is the leading Asian in triple jump this season so far with an effort of 17.00 metre in the second leg of Asian Grand Prix in Bangalore in June.

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