High hurdler Siddhanth Thingalaya aims Asian Games medal

New Delhi: Back in form with a national record-equalling performance after a "horror show" in the Commonwealth Games, high hurdler Siddhanth Thingalaya feels he stands a bright chance of winning a medal in the upcoming Asian Games.

Thinaglaya has been one of the most talented Indian athletes to have come up in recent years since breaking into the scene by smashing the 110m hurdles national record with a 13.81 secs run in 2010 as a 19-year-old. He has since improved his own national record to 13.65 secs in 2012 before equalling the same two days back in the Federation Cup Senior National Athletics Championships in Patiala. His effort came on a slow track at the NIS which was laid in 2011 but worn out considerably due to hot climatic conditions.

"I feel I am in my top form after injuries and indifferent form. I want to win a medal in the Asian Games and that will be a big achievement. I think I can do it," Thingalaya told PTI in an interview.

Thingalaya`s 13.65 secs effort put him in the fifth position among Asian athletes in the IAAF season leaders` list. Chinese Xie Wenjun is at the top with 13.23 secs followed by Kuwait`s Mandeel Abdulaziz (13.56secs) and two Japanese athletes Masund Genta (13.58secs) and Yazawa Wataru (13.59secs).

"I feel I can run below 13.60 secs and that should hopefully put me in medal contention in Asian Games. I could have cut down on my timing (in the Federation Cup race in Patiala). I landed flat after clearing the seventh or the eighth hurdle and so lost time," he added.
The 23-year-old Mumbai lad, who stands six feet three inches on his feet, suffered injuries in 2012 and 2013, which had affected his career and he failed to make it to the final round of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games after clocking 13.93 secs.

"It was a horror show. I was really disappointed with my performance in Glasgow. I never expected to clock 13.93 secs. At the worst, my timing on the average has been late 13.7 or early 13.8. That also (Glasgow timing) after I recovered from the injury," he said.

Thingalaya suffered a hamstring injury on his left leg -- his leading leg -- just before the Diamond League Meet in Birmingham in June last year, laying him low for a while. "I suffered a hamstring pull while warming up for the Diamond League in Birmingham. I did not take part in the race. But I am perfectly fit now," said the youngster.

Thingalaya`s confidence was a result of some top class foreign training exposure he had got in the four years of his senior career. Mittal Champions Trust sent him to high altitude Potchefstroom in South Africa in 2010 when he was competing at the junior level.

After that he trained for some time under Australian coach Sharon Hannon in Brisbane from 2011 to 2013. His last foreign training stint was under well-known United States coach Darrell Smith at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) from January to May this year, which was sponsored by steel major JSW.

"The training under Smith at the UCLA has done a world of good to me. There my training partner was current world silver medallist Ryan Wilson. I got to know the training methods of the top athletes there and learnt better techniques," said Thingalaya who set his national record of 13.65secs at the Belgium National Championships in Brussels in 2012," said the athlete who is employed with ONGC.

"Darrell Smith told me to cut down time by having minimum action of body parts like hand movement and concentrate on clearing the hurdle as fast as possible. His focus is on the speed of the legs and place yourself over the hurdle as fast as possible," he added.

Thingalaya has a minor problem of nearsightedness which he said does not affect his running. Because of that he normally wears lenses. But at the Federation Cup in Patiala he did not wear his spectacles but still equalled his own national record. "I think I had put the lenses in another bag and could not find it before the race. So I ran without spectacles but still could equal my national record.

"Sometimes I can`t see far off objects and so my coaches advised me to wear lenses. It does not in any way affect my performance but I used to wear them." Thingalaya does not have a regular Indian coach and is relying on a possible foreign training stint after the Asian Games.

"I am hoping that I can continue my foreign training after the Asian Games. As of now, I don`t know where I will train after the Asian Games. It depend on my sponsors."

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