Usain Bolt to me will be just another competitor, says Rio-bound 200m runner Dharambir Singh

Dharambir Singh, first Indian in 36 years to qualify for the 200 metres event at the Olympics, believes he can significantly better his qualifying time and insists that he won’t be overawed by the presence of sprint king Usain Bolt in the same competition at the Rio Games.

“Usain Bolt to me will be just another competitor at the Games. I am not going into the Games thinking I will get to meet him. I am rather focussed on my own preparation. I seriously feel I can break sub 20-second barrier in Rio,” Dharambir said.

The athlete, hailing from Ajayab village in Rohtak district of Haryana, is also not feeling the burden of heightened expectations despite being the first from the country to make the 200m Olympic cut in more than three decades. He qualified for Rio Games by clocking 20.45 for a national record in the Indian Grand Prix held in Bengaluru earlier this month.

“It doesn’t surprise me that I have qualified. I worked hard for eight years and finally have realised my goal. Now the aim is to give my best and be competitive in 200 metres.

“Though it is true that nobody could qualify for so long, I see a lot of Indian athletes breaking the barrier in the years to come. There is a lot of talent in our country,” said the 27-year-old.

Crossing the sub 20-second mark will be tough for the confident Indian. It is to be kept in mind that he recorded 20.45 little more than a week ago, breaking his own record of 20.66 set in Wuhan last year.

“My event begins on August 16 so I still have time to better my timings further. I have analysed the competition I have. Obviously it is not going to be easy but if the weather is conducive and if I am able to give my 100 percent, I might just hit the sub 20-second mark,” said Dharambir.

Bolt had clocked 19.19 seconds to create a new 200 metres world record in the 2009 World Championships. The Jamaican also holds the 100-metre record of 9.58 seconds.