Anjana Thamke: One for the future

When Tintu Luka became the first and only Indian woman to break the two minute mark in the 800 meter middle-distance running event, clocking at one minute and 59 seconds, it became a record expected to go unchallenged for a long time. Three years after the record was set, 15-year old Anjana Thamke has put forward a claim to better that timing. After a stellar performance at the recently concluded Asian Youth Games in Nanjing, China, Thamke won the gold in the 800 meter event by beating her closest opponent by three seconds. The impressive feat has showered her with further awards and set a clock ticking against Luka's record.

The dream, however, is not expected to end just by breaking the record. "This is just the beginning for her," says coach Vijender Singh, who had accompanied his ward during her Chinese outing. "She has been training for just under two years but she has excelled. She's still a long way from hitting her peak, but when she does, she will easily break the two minute mark and get a national record. Not only that, she has a really good chance of winning medals at Olympics and the Commonwealth Games." Thamke too shares her coach's enthusiasm about breaking the national record, but is more concerned about entering the Olympics. "I'm working hard, I hope to God that I make it to the next Olympics," she says. "I want to win a medal there, preferably the gold. That is my ultimate goal."

Born in Ganeshgaon, a village 42 kilometers away from Nashik, in November of 1997, the middle-distance runner's story did not start off with training sessions and a commitment to the sport. With both parents, Dhavalu and Nandabai, working as farmers, she and her younger brother Sachin were often called to assist them in the rice field. The effect of the strenuous work was that it started building up her stamina, an occurrence oblivious to the young prodigy. What also helped is the fact that she used to run around 12 kilometers a day just to get to school and back home.

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