Vithya Ramraj is living out a dream

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Vithya Ramraj,  right, with her twin Nithya.

Vithya Ramraj, right, with her twin Nithya.
| Photo Credit: Special arrangement

They are identical twins and it’s very tough to differentiate Vithya Ramraj from Nithya. The former is a 400m hurdler and quartermiler while the latter is a sprint hurdler. Even the World Athletics is very confused when it comes to the twin sisters from Coimbatore who train at the Nehru Stadium in Chennai.

The World Athletics website has been listing Nithya’s achievements — she was fourth in the recent Bangkok Asians and is the country’s No. 2 100m hurdler behind Asian champion Jyothi Yarraji — under Vithya’s name.

Incidentally Vithya, who is younger to Nithya by a minute, has never done the 100m hurdles. She is now making a big mark in the tougher 400m hurdles and the 400 flat and her performances in the Indian Grand Prix-5 in Chandigarh promises to make 2023 her best year ever.

She narrowly missed P.T. Usha’s 39-year-old National record (55.42s) while taking the IGP title with a personal best 55.43. A day earlier, she shocked prominent names like Himanshi Malik and Aishwarya Mishra to the win the 400m in another personal best (52.40s).

The Asian Games in Hangzhou are just days away and Vithya has set some big goals for herself.

“I’m now aiming for 54.50 at the Asian Games… maybe, I’ll break the 55-sec barrier,” said the 24-year-old, in a chat with The Hindu, from Chandigarh.

“I couldn’t break Usha’s record because there was no competition, there was no one to fight. Right from the beginning, I felt I was running alone, it was like doing a practice session.”

Vithya, a National camper for the last three months, has been entered in the 400m hurdles for the Asiad, where her medal chances look good, and she could be used in the relays too. And with sources revealing that Himanshi, who has been entered in Asiad’s individual 400m earlier, had suffered a knee injury, Vithya’s chances of running the quartermile has brightened.

“If they (national federation officials) give my entry, I will run the 400 in 51s. My favourite is the 400m. But I need to run more of it.”

Nehpal Singh Rathore, who has been coaching Vithya for nearly three years in Chennai, feels there is improvement in Vithya’s hurdling rhythm.

“She did not have a proper rhythm in the hurdles, she’s better but she can do more. And she’s better on the home stretch,” said Nehpal. “This year, we have targeted below 55s. And in 400 flat, we have targeted below 52. We are almost there.”

Vithya took to athletics as a 400m runner in 2010 but a few years later, she realised there was tough competition in the quartermile.

“I’ve been doing the hurdles from 2019. I noticed that there was not much competition in the hurdles and when I began winning national golds regularly, my coach told me that I could do well in the 400 flat too,” said the Railway athlete.

“I’m concentrating on the 400 now. Earlier, I was always fourth or fifth. Now, I’ve got the results, winning in a 400m field that had all the national campers.”

She trained under Galina Bukharina for three years at the National camp and moved out shortly after the coach left.

“In the National camp, if there are nine athletes, all of them will have the same workout. Individually, I never got what I needed. But my coach (Nehpal) decided what was good for me as an individual so I’m improving with every race.”

The Asian Games will confirm how good she really is.

Credit TO Owner