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Unnathi sprinting to master bigger hurdles

The 18-year-old from Karnataka is making giant strides on the big circuit.
Last Updated : 15 May 2024, 15:08 IST
Last Updated : 15 May 2024, 15:08 IST

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Bengaluru: Unnathi Aiyappa is in the midst of a transitional period. It is a phase where every decision the teen athlete makes in the present is to help her leapfrog towards cementing future goals. Her recent results are a testimony to this. 

After having already qualified for the women’s World Athletics Under-20 Championships 100m hurdles to be held in Lima (Peru) from August 27-31, the 18-year-old from Karnataka breached the qualification mark for the 200m race as well by winning the gold at the National Senior Federation Cup in Bhubaneswar on Monday with a personal best timing of 23.85 seconds. Less than a month ago, the youngster had finished with a bronze medal in the 100m hurdles at the Asian U-20 Athletics Championships in Dubai. 

“Our main goal is to get Unnathi to become a 400m hurdler,” says father and coach BP Aiyappa. “Whatever we are doing now with the 100m hurdles and 200m is a preparation towards that goal,” he adds. 

Speaking about the races over the last few days, Unnathi, who ran a mistake-laden semifinal where she was slow off the blocks and in the curve, focussed on overcoming the flaws in the final where she was chasing time more than the gold. The 'unexpected' win was extra special, says the girl from Kodagu as she beat seasoned sprinter Srabani Nanda in a photo finish for her first medal at a senior meet. 

“We will get her to compete in four more events before the World Juniors and based on the progress in both the events (200m and 100m hurdles), my idea is to enter in only one event in Lima. I don't want to put too much load on her body as a junior and she will focus on these two disciplines for another year-and-a-half. We will completely switch to 400m hurdles only after that,” explained Aiyappa. 

Unnathi, however, is eager to get into what is considered the most demanding of all track events - the quartermile with 10 hurdles. Even though she enjoys all the sprint races equally, it is the flat 400m event that's her least favourite.

“The 400m hurdles has a rhythm to it which is addictive. But 400m is just going all out. It’s boring,” says the daughter of Olympian Pramila Aiyappa. 

If fine-tuning her running skills or blazing the tracks is her primary vocation, the teen is part of a growing brigade of Indian women athletes who enjoy upping the fashion quotient while competing or off it.

“I recently learnt how to braid my hair. I wore some eye-liner and lipstick and did some nail art for the first-time while racing in Dubai and here. It is important to look pretty when you win. No?!,” reasons Unnathi, who takes inspiration from USA’s sprint star Sha’Carri Richardson. 

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Published 15 May 2024, 15:08 IST

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