Picture by Athletics Federation of India

Who is Harmilan Bains: 5 things to know about the 1500m National Record holder

Harmilan scripted history at the ongoing 60th National Open Athletics Championships in Warangal
By Samrat Chakraborty

Harmilan Bains became the queen of middle-distance running in India as she set a new national record in the 1500m event at the 60th National Open Athletics Championships in Warangal.

Even though Harmilan completed the distance in 4:05.39 to set the national record, she missed out on breaching the 2022 World Championships qualification mark of 4:04.20.

However, she broke Sunita Rani's long standing record of 4:06.03 set at 2002 Asian Games in Busan.

Let us now, know, a bit more about Bains and her journey:

Family of athletes

Harmilan, in many ways, is carrying the legacy of her family forward. Her father Amandeep Bains was also national champion and medal-winner in the 1500m event at the South Asian Games. Her mother Madhuri, meanwhile, was a silver medallist in the 800m event at the 2002 Asian Games and finished fourth in the 1500m event in the continental event.

Taking up athletics

However, as a kid, Harmilan never wanted to get into athletics. She was good in academics and wanted to become a scientist or an engineer. But her parents kept pushing her towards athletics.

It was in 2015 that athletics became a priority for her after she was sent to the Sports Authority of India (SAI) hostel in Dharamshala.

Stepping out of parents shadow

Her national record-breaking feat was also special as it helped her to step out of her parents shadow. She was constantly under parental pressure being a daughter of two former athletes. But believes that the burden will be reduced now.

She, however, found support in her coach Suresh Saini who constantly told her parents to refrain from monitoring her performance.

“His (Suresh Saini) theory was I needed a free mind,” Harmilan told the Indian Express.

Overcoming odds

It was a dream come true for Harmilan at the ongoing national championships. But it did not come easy as she had withdrawn from the Punjab State Championships due to tightness in her legs. She had stopped training with her spikes a few days ahead of the event to make sure that the ailment doesn't aggravate.

Not just that, she also worked on reducing the fat percentage in her body to improve her efficiency as a runner. Her lower body muscles were also specially taken care of during this period of time.

“Last year her body fat percentage was 26. Now it is 15 per cent. She had disturbed running mechanics. We also worked on improving bio-mechanical movements which makes her a more efficient runner. Also because of lower muscle mass her speed was not the best. That is why I made her do a lot of uphill running like 60 metres, 80 metres in Dharamshala where we trained,” Saini told the Indian Express.

Targeting podium spot at 2022 Asian Games

Bains, however, wants to go one step forward and is targeting a podium finish at the 2022 Asian Games.

"I've set a new national record but I think I can push myself even further. My goal is to break the 3 minutes 55 second mark," she told ESPN.