Bhubaneswar: Odisha Reliance High Performance Center athlete Bapi Hansda scripted history at the Asian Youth Athletics Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on Sunday as he became the 1st Indian ever to win silver in the men’s 400m hurdles event at the competition. Another athlete from Reliance Foundation’s High Performance Centre’s Mohammad Reyan Basha also won silver in the boys medley relay event.
What made the feat even more special was the fact that Bapi clocked a time of 51.38s, easily his personal best. His timing was also better than the previous Championship Record of 51.96s. In the previous editions of the tournament, Bapi’s timing in the final would have been good enough to secure gold.
This was only the 5th-time ever that Bapi was running in the 400m hurdles event and just his third competition.
Speaking after the final, Bapi said, “This was my first major international competition. I am very happy that I won silver. To get it with a personal best was even more satisfying. I hope to keep improving in the future.”
Qatar’s Mahamat Abakar won gold in the event with a time of 50.91s, while Sri Lanka’s Kuda Liyanage won bronze, clocking 51.40s.
“Before the race, I was a little nervous as I had finished third in the heats. But before the race, the coach took me aside during the warm ups and calmed me down. I felt pretty good after that and my mind was in a good space.”
Martin Owens, Head Coach – Odisha Reliance High Performance Centre was elated at Bapi’s performance. “I’m very proud of Bapi. It was a great effort by him to clock his personal best in a very tough and competitive field that saw a new championship record being set. He will take a lot of confidence from this win and we will look to build on this in the upcoming months.”
Coach Owens also had words of praise for the medley relay team. “The team’s execution and team work on the track was super smooth and clinical today. Their timing was impressive and to win silver in this competition is a quality achievement.”
In four previous editions of the tournament, India’s best showing was a bronze medal won by Murad Sirman in the previous edition in 2022.
Bapis Journey with RFHPC
- Bapi’s previous best before this competition was 51.90s, which he achieved at the Indian U18 Championships in Udupi in March. That effort also saw him ranked world no 1 in the under-18 category earlier this year.
- Bapi is a part of Reliance Foundation’s High Performance Centre (HPC) in Odisha. He won a gold medal (51.95 seconds) in the 400m hurdles event at the 18th National Youth Athletics Championship in March this year.
- Bapi had enrolled for the endurance program but seeing his performances and acumen was shifted to HPC to train for 400 meters hurdles. Bapi is now ranked world no. 1 in under-18 age category. Bapi is coached by Martin Owens.
- Bapi comes from a humble background and stays with his brothers, sister and mother. He is the youngest of five siblings, his brothers are into farming.
- His eldest brother had to work as a sweeper at a railway station to fund his training.
Speaking about being a part of the Reliance Foundation’s High Performance Centre in Odisha, Bapi said, “I have not had to worry about training gear, high quality nutrition and education after joining the HPC as all those things are now being taken care of. I have access to great coaching and excellent facilities that have helped me improve at a rapid pace.”
Having achieved his target of doing well at the Asian Youth Athletics Championships, Bapi will now set his sights on the Commonwealth Youth Games.
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