“Njan maduthu [I am tired of this],” chuckles Kerala sprinter Mohammed Ajmal, who is still catching his breath after winning gold with a personal best timing of 46.84s at the ongoing National Championships here. “It’s 400m right…I have to run a lot,” he says.
After having started out as a 100m sprinter, Ajmal made a recent switch to the 400m event at the insistence of his coaches. Earlier this month, in his first-ever 400m run, he clocked an impressive 46.91s to take gold at the National Services Championships in Bhubaneswar. Ajmal, it appears, will now stick to the 400m event. His State-mate Muhammed Anas holds the national record with a timing of 45.21s.
Explaining the switch, he says, “In India, there is a better probability of making the international events in the 400m. Otherwise, one has to be outstanding as a sprinter to make it in the 100m. And when my coaches (Ajesh T. J. and Vijay Busi) prompted me to take that step, I was confident to do so too.”
On Saturday, he sealed his place in the 200m final and will be keen to make it another double to add to his Services championships double. He has a PB time of 21.01s – Anas holds the NR with a timing of 21.01s – in the national inter-university championships in 2018.
Mohammad Ajmal crossing the finish line. – AFI
Hailing from Palakkad district, Ajmal was an aspiring footballer during his childhood. “I was a left forward playing for Palakkad in the U-19 State levels before my school coach, Nandakumar sir, suggested I concentrate on running instead,” says Ajmal.
It’s a big year for athletic events 2022 and Ajmal is keen to make a mark on the international stage. “There are many competitions in the coming year. I need to run really well. Individual event qualification may be difficult, so I am hoping to make it to the international level through the relay team,” says Ajmal.
“Lot of repetition and weight training involves with this event. Everyone says 400m requires a bit of using your head,” says Ajmal, but he doesn’t want to over-complicate things. “Hear the bang and just run,” he adds.
On Sunday, when the starting pistol goes off in the 200m final, Ajmal will have another chance to add to his growing reputation.