Asiad champ looks to clear comeback hurdle

New Delhi, Aug. 6 -- Guangzhou Asian Games champion Joseph Abraham is limping back to the track. The 79th Railways athletics championships that got underway here on Monday at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium will be his first 400m hurdles competition of the season. "It will enable me to evaluate my strength," he said.

With just a year to go for the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, Abraham is candid in saying that any repeat of his Guangzhou effort will only be possible if he is able to achieve a certain level of fitness. "It won't be that easy to dominate the event in Incheon," the Southern Railways hurdler told HT on the sidelines of the meet.

After his exploit in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games - he was the only Indian male athlete to win a track and field gold medal there - Abraham was rated as a bright prospect for the 2012 London Games. But instead of marching forward, the Asiad champion began slipping backwards.

PETTY POLITICS

Abraham's coach, Rajinder Singh, blames petty politics in sports, giving it as the main reason that affected his trainee's progress. Despite the champion tag, Joseph wasn't provided international exposure to polish his skills in the build-up to the London Games.

This while almost all the top athletes in the camp, including other medal winners of the 2010 Asian Games, were given opportunity to train and compete abroad. At least a couple of international races, according to his coach, could have made the difference in achieving the qualifying mark for the London Olympics.

A right groin injury at the end of the 2012 competitive season added to his disappointment, forcing him off the track and resulting in his missing a major chunk of training early this year.

Despite the odds, Abraham, the first Indian athlete to run under 50 seconds in his event, hasn't lost hope. "I have been training pretty well for the last two months. I should get my rhythm back in the next two months," said the 30-year-old athlete from Kerala.

Abraham, who has shifted his training base from the National Institute of Sports in Patiala to the SAI centre in Thiruvananthapuram, is hopeful of getting international exposure at the right time. "Hope this time I am lucky," said the national record holder.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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