Gujarat’s triathlete Pragnya Mohan was so confident of winning National Games Women’s Individual gold medal that she set herself a tougher target; win with a five-minute margin. Not too surprisingly, she did not have any company for nearly two-thirds of race in and outside IIT Gandhinagar campus.
Even a howling wind during the Cycling leg or oppressive humidity during her run could not shake her off her mission. Almost looking possessed, Pragnya Mohan crossed the finish line triumphantly, much to the delight of a big crowd that came to cheer her.
“My training has been so good that I could set a personal goal for myself in the event: dominate the field and win by at least five minutes. That pushed me through the race and I didn’t slacken even once,” she said after winning her maiden individual gold in the National Games. Having finished 10th the last time in Kerala, Pragnya had a point to prove. Her gold medal effort in 1 hour 7 minutes and 32 seconds incidentally has swelled Gujarat’s gold haul to an impressive 12.
“This has to be one of my best performances,” she conceded, falling back on data like her heart-rate and power index to justify her smile of satisfaction.
She started well in the Swimming leg but was third to the transition area for Cycling behind the Maharashtra duo of Mansi Mohite and Sanjana Joshi. With only a few seconds separating her from the riders who left the IIT campus on the recently resurfaced road past Palaj to the nearby State Highway, it wasn’t too difficult for her to jump into the lead.
“I enjoyed the ride. There was some wind that affected my speed but since I train on power, Cycling was a straightforward leg,” she said. “When I got back to the IIT campus, I ran alone and used the water from the two aid stations to cool my body down on a very humid morning. Those who saw me out there will know that I was panting.”
“Of course, there is scope for improvement overall. I was prepared for the number of turns in the Swim leg since it was being held in a pool. I had asked the officials to ring the bell at the start of the last 50m lap to give the competitors an indication that they had to run to the transition area after the 750m swim.
“There is great joy in winning on home turf and in front of a home crowd. I got this opportunity thank to the decision of the Government to have the National Games here,” Pragyna Mohan said. “I was particularly encouraged to know that some youngsters had come especially to cheer me. I hope they are inspired enough to take up some sport soon.”
As for the pressure of expectations, though she is self-admittedly not very good at dealing with anxiety, she heard the chatter all right but focused on converting her training to perform in competition today. “I knew in advance that there would be pressure, but I have learnt over the past few years to shift my attention to what needs to be done in competition,” she said