Priya Mohan, the teen quarter-miler to watch out for

Priya Mohan defeated Dutee Chand in the 200m at the Khelo India University Games 2021.

By Aarish Ansari
Picture by Athletics Federation of India

Priya Mohan is making news in India’s track and field world.

The 19-year-old sprinter has swiftly climbed the ranks in the last four years, beating some of the most accomplished athletes in India and winning medals at the junior world championships.

Only three years ago, the young Indian runner was blazing the track at school events!

Who is Priya Mohan?

Born on March 15, 2003, in Habbathanahalli village of Tumakuru district, Bengaluru, Priya Mohan is one of the fastest quarter-milers in the country.

Priya’s father, HA Mohan, is a district judge in Belagavi, while her mother, Chandrakala, is a homemaker.

The young Indian athlete was competing at the ICSE School Nationals in October 2018 when she caught the eye of her current coach Arjun Ajay.

Under Arjun’s guidance, Priya Mohan showed massive improvement and shaved off close to six seconds in three months in the 400m, going from 1:05.50s to 57.81s.

"Her back was stiff. She used to bend a lot. We worked on her upper body strength and flexibility,” Arjun Ajay told Sportstar.

In one year, Priya Mohan reduced her timing even further, clocking 53.62s at the U-20 National Championships 2019 and even won a medley relay at the Asian Youth Athletics Championships, in the same year.

She capped off the impressive year with a 400m silver medal at the South Asian Games.

However, her momentum was broken when the pandemic halted all sporting activities across the globe. Priya did not compete in any event in 2020.

But that did not stop Priya Mohan from putting in the hard yards.

"She is one of the most dedicated students I have had. If she's not able to train for some reason, she starts crying,” Arjun Ajay revealed.

Priya, who resides in Vijaynagar, took special permission from Bengaluru Police to travel over 100km to Vidyanagar Stadium daily during the lockdown.

The runner also took up high-altitude training in Ooty, which is 2,240m above sea level, to prepare for the junior world athletics championships in Nairobi, which is around 1,800m above sea level.

The training paid off when she got back on the track in 2021 as she remained unbeaten in all 400m events in India.

The spectacular run also saw her winning the 400m gold at the National Inter-state Senior Athletics Championships in Patiala where she beat Rio 2016 Olympians M.R. Poovamma and Jisna Mathew.

Despite being the fastest quarter-miler in 2021, Priya Mohan was not part of the Tokyo 2020 mixed relay team since she did not attend the national camp. The Athletics Federation of India has a policy of picking relay teams only from national camp attendees.

“I could not attend the camp in Patiala as I had exams,” the teenager explained.

The setback, however, did not affect her growth as Priya Mohan clocked her then-personal best of 52.77s in 400m at the World Athletics U20 Championships 2021, missing out on the bronze medal by a whisker.

Priya did return with a medal from the junior world meet as she was a part of India’s bronze-winning quartet in the 4x400m mixed relay.

The Karnataka runner’s golden run continued in 2022 with gold medal finishes at the All-India University Women’s Athletics Championships and the Indian Grand Prix.

Priya Mohan also broke her 400m personal best at the Indian Grand Prix 1, clocking 52.91s and, a month later, bettered her 200m record as well, hitting 23.85s at the National Federation Cup.

All this while, Priya Mohan was also juggling athletics and academics at Mount Carmel College.

In May 2022, Priya came close to her 200m personal best at the Khelo India University Games 2021, defeating reigning champion Dutee Chand with a timing of 23.90s. The youngster also claimed the 400m gold.

But Priya Mohan’s main aim is to break the 50-second barrier that no other Indian woman has ever done before.

“We are invested in improving each day and nothing else,” Priya Mohan told the Deccan Herald.

The current women’s 400m national record is held by Hima Das, who ran 50.79 at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.

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