Florence Barla and Asha Kiran Barla whizzed to gold medals on Saturday, capping a memorable debut for these sisters from Gumla at the 34th National Junior Athletics Championship in Hotwar, Ranchi.
Florence blazed a trail by bagging the Under-18 girls’ 400m gold while Asha took home the yellow metal in the Under-14 600m run for girls. The former also claimed bronze in 200m on Monday.
The barely 18-year-old clocked 56:10 seconds to win the 400m and 25:10 seconds to claim the 200m bronze. Her younger sister bagged the 600m gold with 1:34:64 seconds.
Cadets of Jharkhand State Sports Promotion Society (JSSPS), the siblings are being considered prospective stars in the national athletics circuit.
“Medal jitkar bahut khush hoon. Aagey badhne ke liye aur mehnat kar rahi hoon (I am glad with my medals. I am working harder to improve),” Florence, a student of DAV Nandraj Public School, Ranchi, said over phone.
The talented runner will leave for Patiala, Punjab, on November 10 to resume her stint at the ongoing senior national preparatory camp for international competitions, including the 2020 Olympic Games. She is working with the likes of Hima Das, who scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman athlete to win 400m gold in the IAAF World Under-20 Athletics Championship held in Tampere, Finland, in July this year.
Asked about training with Hima, Florence said she was learning a lot from the champion athlete. “Hima didi tells me to concentrate and never skip training. She says patience and perseverance are most important for a runner,” said Florence, who has also won gold medals in state meets.
The sisters are looking forward to making a career in athletics. “We wish to represent India in international competitions, including the Olympics,” Florence said and Asha nodded.
“Bahut achha lag raha hai ki Jharkhand ke liye medal jite. Meri taiyari bahut achhi thi (I am happy to have bagged a medal for Jharkhand. I was very well prepared),” said Asha, a Class V student at DAV Nandraj.
JSSPS athletics coach Captain Sanjay Ghosh heaped praise on his wards. “Both Florence and Asha are highly talented and have the temperament to win. They train hard; remain focussed. We are very optimistic of their progress in their respective disciplines,” Ghosh said.