Sprinter Srabani Nanda gets a head start in Jamaica

The athlete from Odisha was competing at the 100m event, representing the MVP Track & Field Club.

By Subhayan Dutta

Ace Indian sprinter and Olympian Srabani Nanda became the first Indian track and field athlete to resume competition since the COVID-19 induced lockdown.

With World Athletics (IAAF) suspending Olympic Qualification tournaments till November 2020, and the Athletics Federation India (AFI) cancelling the Indian Grand Prix and the Fed Cup, most Indian athletes have only just resumed training.

Srabani Nanda, on the other hand, competed for the second time at the Velocity Fest meeting in Jamaica College, where the 29-year-old athlete from Odisha - representing the MVP Track club - clocked 11.78 seconds in the heats to finish third overall.

The Velocity Fest at the Ashenheim Stadium was Jamaica’s first track-and-field event since March.

Apart from Nanda, the Velocity Fest also had double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson Herah and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce competing.

It was the second meet for Herah since she pulled out of the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha, and the Jamaican star clocked 11.19 seconds in the 100m event. However, it was short of Fraser-Pryce’s 11.00 seconds that was clocked a week ago.

Srabani Nanda represents the MVP Track Club

An Olympic hopeful

Having first broken into the international scene in 2008, where Srabani Nanda had won a team gold medal in the 4x100 metres relay at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Pune, the 100m and 200m sprinter has gone on to represent India at the Rio 2016 Olympics as well.

Srabani Nanda had stunned all by meeting the Olympic qualifying mark of 23.30 seconds by clocking 23.07 seconds at the 2016 G Kosanov Memorial Meet in Almaty, by virtue of which she had qualified for the 200m event in Rio.

India have had five athletes sealing their Tokyo berths, apart from the 4x400 mixed relay so far, prior to the lockdown.

But with Nanda winning a gold and a silver medal in the 200m event 100m event respectively at the 2016 South Asian Games, she will be an Olympic hopeful for the quickest track event in Tokyo alongside Dutee Chand.

By the time the Tokyo Games start in 2021, the Odisha sprinter will be 30. However, having started training and competing at the MVP Track Club, which is home to numerous Olympic gold medallists, she is busy making up for lost time.