Following a successful season that saw Harmilan Kaur Bains rewrite the 1500m national record last week, the Jalandhar athlete is now aiming for international success in the next year's Asian and Commonwealth Games. However, the 23-year-old middle-distance runner is currently in search of sponsors to replicate her success at the international level.
Harmilan comes from a family of athletes. Her mother Madhuri Saxena won the silver in the 800m at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, while her father Amandeep Singh won 1500m medals in the South Asian Games.
Running is in her blood and by breaking Sunita Rani's long-standing record of 4:06.03 set at the 2002 Asian Games in Warangal, Harminal is a prime medal contender for the upcoming 2022 Asiad in China. For the record, the former Khelo India Games champion improved on her previous personal best by more than 10 seconds at 4:05:39s in 1500m before bagging the 800m gold as well at the National Open.
However, to lay her hands on the yellow metal that eluded her mother back in 2002, the rising track and field athlete needs to shave a further five seconds on her timing in order to match the pace of Asian leader Nozomi Tanaka.
Athletes seek new ways to improve their performance and Harmilan is keen to undergo training in a high-altitude location (considered favourable for distance runners), especially in Kenya.
"I have really improved well because of my coach over the last one year and if I improve a further five seconds or more, I will be a gold medal contender in the Asian Games. I feel it's achievable but it's important for me to find a sponsor," said the athlete, who mostly trains at Punjab University's track in Patiala. "I intend to train at a high-altitude location, especially in Kenya, where the world's best runners train."
Her coach Suresh Kumar Saini, who had in the past trained many medal-winning athletes including Harmilan's mother, also added that more than foreign training, her current protege needs to compete in events abroad in order to match her competitors.
"Foreign training will be helpful but more than that it's important that she runs in foreign competitions in order to be ready for the Asian Games and CWG. In order to get her high-altitude training we also went to train in Dharamshala (1457m above sea level) and good facilities are available in India as well but nothing will prepare her better if she knows who her competitors are," said Saini.
Following her success in Warangal, the athlete was also invited by the athletics federation (AFI) to join their distance runners national camp in Bengaluru. However, the athlete won't be able to take part in the camp due to her coach's 'personal commitments in Patiala'.