Rio Olympics 2016: Lalita Babar became the first Indian to qualify for Olympic athletics final after 1984, when PT Usha reached a track final at Los Angeles.
Rio Olympics 2016: Lalita Babar became the first Indian to qualify for Olympic athletics final after 1984, when PT Usha reached a track final at Los Angeles. Babar, hailing from Maharashtra, finished fourth in the qualifying heat 2 of women’s 3000 m steeplechase, with a national record and qualified for the final. Sudha Singh who also participated in the event got eliminated at the Games on Saturday. Babar is now the first Indian after PT Usha to reach an athletics final. At the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, had won bronze in the 3000 m steeplechase. In the qualifying heat round at Olympics, she finished with the 7th-best and clocked a new national record of 9 minutes 19.76 seconds.
Sudha Singh who got eliminated had the record in her name earlier, while Babar broke it (9:26.55) by seven seconds. Sudha clocked that record in Shanghai in May this year. According to Olympic rules, in the qualifying heat, runners in the top three positions (Beatrice Chepkoech of Kenya, Emma Coburn of USA and Habiba Ghribi of Tunisia) automatically got qualified for the final round, while Lalita got the qualification as she was the fastest among everyone else.
Sudha Singh, performed well below par, and clocked much less than her best. She finished 9th in the race and could finish the race in 9:43.29. That timing got her the 30th spot among 52 in the qualifiers. Lalita will be participating in the finals on August 15.
Babar had already a mark as a world class athelete when she finished 8th at the World Championships in Beijing in 2015.