New Delhi: He has won a gold with the fifth fastest time ever by an Indian in only his second 200m competition at senior level but Assam youngster, Amlan Borgohain, wants to take one step at a time and refuses to harbour lofty ambitions.
The 23-year-old Borgohain, hailing from Meleng village in Assam's Jorhat district, claimed the men's 200m gold on Sunday with a time of 20.75 seconds during the National Open Championships in Warangal, Telengana.
His time was the second fastest on the country's soil and fifth fastest ever by an Indian after national record holder Muhammed Anas Yahia (20.63), Dharambir Singh (20.66), Arokia Rajiv (20.66) and Anil Kumar (20.73).
"It was my first senior level 200m final race since I started taking part at senior level in 2019 and I don't have any international experience," said Borgohain from Bhubaneswar, where he is training at the Reliance Foundation Odisha Athletics High Performance Centre (HPC) since April last year.
His first senior level 200m race was during the 2019 National Open Championships in Ranchi, where he had clocked 21.99 seconds. He had also won a silver in the 100m dash with a creditable time of 10.34 seconds in Warangal.
Asked what are his targets, he said, "I have just started my career and I want to just run fast.
"Olympics is any athlete's ultimate dream but, at the moment, I am not looking very far. I want to take one step at a time. My coach is there to help me and chalk out my future course of action."
Borgohain is under the tutelage of Welshman James Hillier, the head coach at the Reliance Foundation HPC, who has mentored the likes of Rio Olympics 4x400m relay bronze medallist Emily Diamond in the past.
"Of course, there is Asian Games and Commonwealth Games next year but I am not going to put pressure on him by telling him about medals. There is a lot of room for improvement and we are focussing on that.
"He is certainly the best 200m runner in the country at the moment. I am planning to take him to Europe next year to compete on the European circuit and get some more experience competing against quality foreign athletes.
"He has the right attributes to become a top-class athlete. He is always eager to learn, wants to work hard and also very actively participates in anything, not the kind of shy or reticent athlete, he is the leader of any pack."
Borgohain also took part in the Federation Cup in March in Patiala where he ran 10.44 seconds in 100m but did not run in 200m due to a hamstring injury. A bout of COVID-19 infection, he tested positive on his 23rd birthday, forced him to miss the National Inter-State Championships in June.
A fan of Cristiano Ronaldo and Sunil Chhetri, football was Borgohain's first love but took up athletics once his armyman father was posted in Hyderabad, where they shifted from Assam. His father BC Borgohain retired as Subedar Major in 2009.
"Just like most of northeasterners, my first love was football and I played the game in my childhood and school days. But once our family shifted to Hyderabad, there was little scope for football. So, I shifted to athletics. That was in 2015," he said.
Asked if he had faced financial issues during his formative years in the sport, Borgohain said, "We are not well off but the situation was not that bad. It is not that I will not get things like running shoes with spikes, but it takes some time for my father to gather money to buy the stuff."
His first athletics medal came at the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) Nationals in Lucknow in 2015 and podium finishes in the Under-18 and Under-20 categories at state level followed.
Borgohain, whose family has now returned to their native village in Assam, then took part in the Reliance Foundation Youth Sports (RFYS) nation-wide athletics competition in 2017.
He clocked 10.84 seconds in 100m and 22.06 seconds in 200m in the 2018 RFYS national finals.
Hillier spotted him at the Khelo India Games in Guwahati in January last year and invited the youngster to appear for an evaluation at the HPC in February. After four weeks of intensive training and assessment, Borgohain was confirmed a spot at the Reliance Foundation High Performance Centre in April last year.
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