New Delhi: Brimming with confidence after winning a silver at the Asian Games, India's 400m hurdler Dharun Ayyasamy has set his eyes on winning a medal at the Asian Championships next year.
"My next immediate target is to win a medal at Asian championship. I don't know what medal it would be but I'm confident of returning with a medal. Also there is World Championship (also in Qatar) and I want to do well in that also," said Dharun who had clocked 48.96 seconds in Jakarta.
"I am targeting 48.50 next year. If I can do that and keep improving and produce 48.2 or 48.1 in 2020 Olympics, it will be good enough to get into the final. In track and field, getting into the final is a big achievement. So that is the target now," said the 21-year-old, who hails from a village called Ravuthampalayam in Tiruppur district in Tamil Nadu.
Dharun lost his father to tuberculosis when he was eight years old. He was in class IV then. It was his mother, a school teacher, who supported him and his sister, once a budding volleyball player, with a meagre salary of Rs 14,000.
"I don't know where I would have been if it was not for my mother. She always gave me the freedom to follow my dreams. I am trying for a job. Now I have a few offers from Army, Navy and Railways but nothing is confirmed yet," said Dharun, a TY Human Resources student at Alva's College of Arts at Moodabidri in Karnataka.
Talking about his Asian Games silver, Dharun said: "After qualification round I felt confident. I was in second position. Before the final, I was targeting the bronze. I knew beating the Qatar runner will be difficult and also there was a Japanese who would run below 49 sec, but during the race I had a lot of energy and I managed to get silver."
Dharun, who represented his state in kho-kho before switching to athletics, burst onto the national scene when he won the 400m hurdles gold at the 2016 South Asian Games in Guwahati with a time of 50.54 seconds. He was a part of the Rio Olympics 4x400 relay team.
His journey to Asian Games silver has been a tough one.
"After the Olympics, I was injured for a year. It was a shin bone injury and then six months I had to go through rehabilitation. It was difficult to make a comeback," said Dharun.
Ahead of the Asian Games in May, Dharun was in Poland for a five-week training exposure tour but he injured himself there.
"After reaching Poland, I had a hamstring injury after a week. I took rest for 10 days but there was still pain when I stated training. So I told my coach that I need to take 20 days rest and ran straight in competition," said Dharun, who created a new meet record at the National Inter-State Athletics Championship in June in Guwahati.
Dharun, who had broken Joseph Abraham's 400m hurdles national record with a timing of 49.45 sec at the Federation Cup in March, also went for a training camp in Czech Republic.
"Czech Republic was good for me as there was training and competition also. And European countries are suitable. We could work hard and recover also. I ran in 4-5 competition and executed a few things. That experience was good for me. It boosted my confidence as I went from Asian Games," he said.
The government felicitated the athletes with cash awards Tuesday night and Dharun said he wants to buy a sports bike for himself.
"I want to buy a sports bike and keep a little for myself, rest I will give to my mother," said Dharun, who is suffering from an infection below his left eye.
Updated Date: Sep 05, 2018 17:21 PM