New Delhi: Sudha Singh, one of India's finest long-distance athletes and current national record holder for the 3000m steeple chase, finished 13th in the event at the 2012 London Olympics. Her timing of 9:55:67 was set while winning gold at the 16th Asian Games at Guangzhou in 2010, and in June this year Sudha qualified for London after breaking going even better with a timing of 9:47.70.
Performing at the recent Jamba Cloud Hyderabad ten-kilometre-long run, Sudha clinched third position.
Relishing her win, the Olympian shared her London experience and future plans with IBNlive Sports. Excerpts ...
How was your experience at the London Olympics?
London was a big platform for me. It was a great experience. Though I finished 12th, I was quite happy with my performance. I was considering myself lucky after qualifying and would like to give credit to my Guangzhou performance. Due to that I could finish the race confidently.
Did you expect that show in London?
Not at all. Participation was a very big thing for me. Who doesn't want to win medal for his or her country? But for me it was a beginning and there is long way to go. I am just 25 and I am confident of a good show in the future.
how did the gold medal at Guangzhou help you?
I gave my best at the 2010 Asian Games. I targeted gold and clinched it. It is a special feeling which can't be explained when you do something for your country. I still get goose bumps when I recall those moments. Due to that I qualified for the London Olympics. I will try my best to get at least a medal in the next Olympics (Rio de Janeiro). I have been consistently participating in every competitive event, which has helped me to improve on my timing.
Did London change your life? Did you get proper support from the government?
London was a big platform for me. It was my first Olympics. I am pretty confident of playing two more Olympics. London has indeed changed my life. People have started recognizing me. Now, they know who Sudha Singh is. I know Olympic participation is a tough nut to crack, and I am lucky to have done that. Yes, I got a lot of support from government. In London, I got proper facilities and help from the coordinators. Now the government is providing facilities by organizing camps to enhance our performance.
Mary Kom won an Olympic medal for India. Do you think being a female athlete you can also achieve that feat?
Mary Kom has set a milestone for all female athletes. She has proved herself and now it is time for us to repeat. Her feat is incredible. A medal is a medal. Winning a medal is something different. People and friends will appreciate or value you if you are a medalist, it doesn't matter how good you were in the event. Only a medal gives you recognition and identity. I will try my best to give India a medal in the steeple chase. I will cherish my win the day I bring a medal to India and make my country proud.
Everybody chooses their field for a reason. What drove you towards sports?
I wanted to be an athlete. Since childhood, I used to go for running. I am from a small town, Rai Bareilly, and had a big dream too. My parents gave me a lot of support. They also wanted me to excel in athletics. Just like a cricketer loves his pitch, I love the running track.
What are your plans for Rio de Janerio?
It is too early to comment on it. The next Olympics are in 2016 and I have four years. Before that I have to perform in the Asian Championships, and Commonwealth Games. My Rio performance will totally depend on these events. I have to work on my timing which is my main target now.