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Exciting talent Priya Mohan’s stunning new goal

No compromise on education; willing to undergo dope tests any time

She is the country’s fastest quartermiler this year and came close to a 400m medal at the recent Nairobi under-20 Worlds. Priya H. Mohan is now eyeing a bigger goal.

“I want to break 50 seconds in the 400m but it depends on the training and how I execute the race,” Priya told The Hindu from Bengaluru.

That made one’s head spin. For it would not just mean breaking Hima Das’ National record 50.79s, still considered a jaw-dropping time that came with the 2018 Asian Games silver, but going nearly a second faster!

“Her ultimate goal is to become the first Indian to run under 50s but we’re taking it step by step. Next year, before the Asiad, she can do something like 51s,” said Arjun Ajay, her coach since 2018.

“She can run 51s since she has done 300m in 36.7s but she needs international meets to do that.”

Priya is an exciting talent but timings can’t be improved magically. Still, the story so far has been stunning.

When Arjun first saw her at the ICSE Nationals in October 2018, she was second in the 400m in 1:03.50s. By December, it went to 57.81s, another four seconds vanished in 2019 (53.62s).

This year, with some of the top quartermilers either injured or in poor shape, Priya won the inter-State Nationals in June in 53.29s but missed the Olympics mixed relay team as she was not a national camper.

“I could not attend the camp in Patiala as I had exams,” said the 18-year-old who hails from Tumkur and is settled in Bengaluru.

But she clocked a life best 52.77s while finishing fourth in the under-20 Worlds last month after helping India to the 4x400m mixed relay bronze.

Her stunning progress and reluctance to join the national camp before Tokyo raised many eyebrows. With 2022 loaded with Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and junior and senior Worlds, many are keen to know whether Priya will join the camp. “I’ll attend camps only before competitions and with my coach. I’m doing B.Com, if I go for (long) camps I won’t be able to attend college. If they want to do any (dope) test, I’m ready for it, they can come home any time,” said Priya.

Watchful eye

Priya’s father H.A. Mohan, a district judge in Belagavi, wants a situation that would be fair to all.

“Since I’m in a responsible position, it is not necessary for us to adopt any shortcuts.

“I have told her coach about it and also my daughter to be cautious before taking anything,” said Mohan.

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