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Parul Chaudhary: Breaking the Hurdles

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With the Olympics around the corner, the Athletic Federation of India has recently announced a 28-member team that will represent India in track and field events.

And in that list, there is only one name who will be representing India in two events, and that is Parul Chaudhary.

Courtesy HT

She directly qualified for the 3000m steeplechase event, and through her ranking, she qualified for the 5000m event.
But her journey to the Olympics has not been a cakewalk.

Early Journey –

Born in 1995 in a small village in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, Parul grew up as a farmer’s daughter. As a child, she didn’t know much about sports.

But one day, when her father asked whether she would like to participate in a school race, she said yes.

And she ran 800m for the first time that day and won that race.

After that, the school board told her parents that she would do well as an athlete and that she should be put into training.
Being not sure whether to pursue sports at the time, Parul wanted a job, as in her village, young girls and women were confined to stereotypical roles.
So, she started training for the 3000m steeplechase and 5000m and won a gold medal at the senior nationals in 2015.
This helped her get a job as a ticket collector for the Western Railways.

But it wasn’t always easy for Parul; she would often come good in national competitions but return empty-handed from international events.

She failed to qualify for the 2018 Asian Games, and when that happened again at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, she contemplated quitting and taking up a job.

“Then I remembered the saying that hard work never goes to waste, and decided to give myself some more time,” she said, and her time to shine arrived in the year 2023.

Breakthrough Year –

The year 2023 was a turning point in Parul’s career. She won gold in the 3000m steeplechase at the Asian Athletics Championships, giving her much-needed international recognition.

In August of the same year, she set a national record in the 3000m steeplechase with a timing of 9:15.31, breaking the national record of 9:19.76 set by Lalita Babar at the 2016 Rio Olympics

“The three-month-long training stint at Colorado Springs in the USA helped a lot,” says Parul.

There, Parul trained alongside fellow steeplechaser Avinash Sable, and the experience of practicing with him helped her a lot.

Courtesy TOI

Her success continued in October 2023, with a top-of-the podium run in the 5000m and a silver medal in the 3000m steeplechase.

Courtesy OpIndia

While Parul was winning medals and accolades internationally, she had a dream that she had nurtured since her childhood:

“I knew that if I could win gold, I would be made a DSP in the police force. My family loves that post, and since I was young, I was in
awe of the DSP uniform,” says Chaudhary.

And her dream came true; in recognition of her achievements, the Uttar Pradesh government appointed her as a Deputy Superintendent of Police.

Courtesy Bhaskar

She was also honoured with the prestigious Arjuna Award in 2023, celebrating her outstanding performance in national sports.

Olympic Expectations –

At the age of 28, Parul is a star hurdler for India, and her hard work and dedication are a testament to that.

Everyone’s expectations are very high when it comes to the Olympics, but they should be kept at bay. Parul, an Asian Queen who is currently gearing up for her first ever Olympics, will find it difficult to win a medal in either of the events she is participating in.

At the world level, with the competition being very high, Parul breaking the national record and achieving a Top 10 finish will itself be a very big achievement for her and India.

In the 3000m SC the world lead time is 8:55.09 and there are 6 timing below 9:05 min mark while Parul is at 51 with a season best of 9:31.38 while her personal best is at 9:15

In the 5000m the world lead time is 14:18.76 and there are 60 timings better than 15 minutes while Parul is at 102 with a personal best of 15:10.35.

Written By Naman

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