Road to Rio: Nirmala Sheoran could be India's surprise package at Olympics 2016
Nirmala Sheoran is a sprinter and an Olympic bound Indian quarter-miler. She is also a part of the Indian women’s 4x400m relay team that is bound for Rio.
Name: Nirmala Sheoran
Discipline: Women's 400m sprint, women's 4x400m relay
Category: Track and field
Qualification: Put up a time of 51.48 at the National Inter-State Senior Athletics championships in Hyderabad in July 2016.
Strengths: Constantly improving, Sheoran has age on her side and while Rio may not be her moment to shine, it could set her up for the 2020 Olympics and provide valuable experience.
Past record (recent best performances): Is a one-time Asian Champion and a one-time Asian Championship finalist.
Past Olympics performance: Debut
Rio Prospects: Her chances at Rio are slim in the 400m sprint, but her time improved from 53.94 to 51.48 this year, thus making it possible that she improves further during the tournament and hopefully claim a medal for her and India.
Nirmala Sheoran is an elite sprinter and now an Olympic bound Indian quarter-miler. She is also a part of the Indian women’s 4x400m relay team that is bound for Rio.
Sheoran hails from Haryana and has been thrust into the glaring spotlight that is the Rio Olympics after an extraordinary performance.
In the recently concluded National Inter-State Senior Athletics championships in Hyderabad, Sheoran put up a timing of 51.48 seconds in the 400m sprint and smashed her own personal record of 53.94 (IAAF).
To everyone’s surprise, Nirmala managed to improve her previous time of 52.35 seconds at the heats by almost a full second in the final race.
Naturally doubts ensued and at the forefront of the questioning was none other than Athletic Federation of India president Adille Sumariwalla.
“She comes as one spurt and then disappears. She again comes as one spurt and then disappears. I have no idea why that keeps happening. Her inconsistency is a concern, yes,” Sumariwalla said to Indian Express. “We have tested her. Although she is not regularly tested, but we have tested her now, after she clocked that timing.”
Sumariwalla also implied that due to Sheoran’s training camp taking place outside India, her result could be a doping case.
Legendary Indian sprinter and Kerala native PT Usha weighed in on Sheoran’s inconsistency and said to The Indian Express, "the race (National Inter-State Senior Athletics championships) was really good and it would be great if she maintained her performance in the upcoming meets as well."
All in all, it looks like Sheoran can only reply to the naysayers one way and that is by putting in a thumping performance at Rio.
Especially seeing how her camp outside India may have done wonders to her speed — with better training facilities and equipment, it is possible for an athlete to bump their timings up — hopefully she can win a medal for her efforts in the 400m sprint at the Olympic Games.
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