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Rediff.com  » Sports » India at World C'ships: Nirmala finishes among the bottom in 400m semis

India at World C'ships: Nirmala finishes among the bottom in 400m semis

Last updated on: August 08, 2017 15:27 IST

Swapna Barman of India competes in the Women's Heptathlon Long Jump at the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships at The London Stadium in London on Sunday

IMAGE: Swapna Barman of India competes in the Women's Heptathlon Long Jump at the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships at The London Stadium in London on Sunday. The 21-year-old from Kolkata finished a lowly 26th with 5431 points. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Remote/Getty Images

Nirmala Sheoran produced a forgettable performance in the women's 400m semi-finals to finish among the bottom trio as India's disappointing show in the World Athletics Championships continued on the fourth day on Monday.

The 22-year-old Nirmala clocked 53.07 seconds, well below her season's as well as personal best of 51.28, as she finished seventh in semi-finals heat number two and 22nd overall out of total 24 competitors at the Olympic Stadium in London.

Top two from each of the three semi-final heats and two fastest finishers from the remaining runners qualify for the final.

Bahrain's Salwa Eid Naser led the field going in the final with a 50.08 seconds effort while defending champion and Rio Olympics silver medallist Allyson Felix clocked the second fastest in 50,12.

Haryana’s Nirmala, who ran at lane number 3, had an outside chance to reach the final but the least she could have attempted was to do better than her personal best but she was out of sorts as soon as she came off the blocks. She did not even come anywhere near her heats performance of 52.01 seconds -- the same timing she had clocked while winning the Asian Championships in Bhubaneswar in July.

Nirmala had on Sunday finished fourth in her heat to qualify for the semi-finals. She had taken the last spot among the six best finishers outside the automatic qualifiers.

"It was not a good race today. Yesterday, I had a good race. I could not recover properly after yesterday's race. I have problems with the food here and I don't have a personal coach," she told PTI after her race.

"My target here was to do better than my personal best. But I could not do that without a personal coach. For an athlete in such a big event, a personal coach is very important. It is difficult without a personal coach," she added.

Barman says completed event despite developing back pain

Indian athlete Swapna Barman, who finished 26th in women's heptathlon at the World Championships in London on Sunday, has claimed that she was on the verge of pulling out of the competition owing to a recurring back pain.

Barman said that the back pain, which she first had in late 2014 after taking part in the Incheon Asian Games, returned to trouble her after she ran the first event -- 100m hurdles -- on Saturday.

She, however, continued with the remaining six events to finish 26th -- just a place above the bottom -- with a total of 5431 points.

The seven heptathlon events were spread over two days and ended on Sunday.

"I had this back pain after the 2014 Asian Games and the whole of 2015 and 2016, I could not do much training and competition. I began proper training in February 2017 only and then I won the Asian Championships in Bhubaneswar to qualify for the World Championships," Barman told PTI.

"The back pain returned and after running the 100m hurdles here (on Saturday), I was feeling real pain. I called up my coach at home and told him I want to pull out of competitions.

"He told me to continue somehow. He said it will be a waste of an opportunity if I pulled out and people will not talk about me very kindly. He said if I can continue somehow I should do that. So I continued and completed the remaining six events," said the 20-year-old from West Bengal.

Barman won the heptathlon gold in the Asian Championships last month with an aggregate of 5942 points, but in the World Championships, nothing went right for her as her performance in all the seven events dipped.

Her best event was the high jump and in Bhubaneswar, she did even better than the individual gold winner. She cleared an height of 1.86m in Bhubaneswar while the individual gold winner (Nadiya Dusanova of Uzbekistan) could only clear 1.84m.

In shot put, Barman cleared a distance of 10,81m, ran 200m race in 26.45 secs, did a 5.53m in long jump, threw the javelin to a distance of 43.49m and then clocked 2 minute 20.17 seconds in 800m race. Each of her results in seven events was worse than her performance in the Asian Athletics.

Barman, who has a peculiar six toes in each of her foot, said that her realistic target now would be to win a gold in the 2018 Asian Games.

"I will consult a doctor after returning home. I think I need a long rest. I am not taking part in the National Open Championships (in September). I hope to take part in the 2018 Commonwealth Games but my target will be to win a gold in the 2018 Asian Games," she said.

Barman's selection in the Indian squad was also a matter of debate as 5942 was not that big a score when it came to the level of World Championships. The athlete who aggregated 6001 in the World Championships, took the 21st place.

But Barman cleared the air about her participation in the National Inter-State Championships in Guntur last month, which the AFI had made it mandatory for selection in the World Championships.

"Yes, I took part in Guntur. The federation officials said I will have to take pert in at least two events (out of seven). I took part in long jump and 100m hurdles and I did reasonably well in the two events."

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