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Ethiopia’s Etenesh Diro run a heat with only one shoe in Rio 2016. Photo: rio2016.comEthiopia’s Etenesh Diro run a heat with only one shoe in Rio 2016. Photo:

Lalita Babar qualifies for the finals in an historical race

(Rio de Janeiro, brpress) - She is the first Indian woman to reach track final in Olympics since PT Usha in 1984 while Ethiopia's Etenesh Diro finishes steeplechase with just one shoe.

(Rio de Janeiro, brpress) – India’s athlete Lalita Babar qualified for the women’s 3000m steeplechase final after finishing fourth in the qualifying heat 2 with a national record time while compatriot Sudha Singh was eliminated in the Olympic Games. Lalita also became the first Indian woman to reach track final in Olympics since PT Usha in 1984 Los Angeles Games in a race that is meant to make history in the Olympic Games. 

Ethiopia’s Etenesh Diro, one of the contenders, left the track of the Olympic Stadium in tears this Saturday (August 13th) after having to run a heat with only one shoe on following a tumble. After finishing seventh  – outside the qualifying places for the final – Diro lodged an appeal with the International Association ofAthletics Federation (IAAF). The IAAF decided that she had done enough to earn her place in Monday (August 15th) morning’s final –  a gruelling race where Lalita will be seen.

Sports Person of the Year

Lalita Babar, who was named as the Sports Person of the Year in the India Sports Awards 2015,  had won the bronze medal in the event in the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, two years ago, in fact finished with the seventh-best time in the heats in a new national record of 9:19.76 seconds – nearly seven seconds off the national mark by Sudha Singh (9:26.55), clocked in Shanghai in May. 

The top three in the three heats gain automatic qualification while Lalita, hailing from Maharashtra, made the grade as one of the six fastest from among the rest. Had she run in the third heat she would have qualified as the winner of that race. While Lalita is a new hope for India’s athleticism, Sudha Singh, on the other hand, performed far below her best to finish a distant 9th in heat 2 in a poor 9:43.29 which gave her the 30th spot out of 52 in the qualifiers.

The third Indian athlete in fray in today’s action, Nirmala Sheoran, looked totally out of depth in the women’s 400m preliminaries in which she finished a distant 35th overall after ending up sixth out of seven runners in heat 1 in 53.03 seconds. After qualifying for the final, an elated Lalita said that she was looking to give her best in the final on Independence day.

Fastest woman in the world  

Etenesh Diro, who was fifth at the London 2012 Olympic Games and is one of the fastest women in the world this year, hurt her foot when she was forced off balance when the athletes got bunched up in the early part of the race. Clearly struggling with her spikes, Diro stopped and took her right shoe off and then stopped again to throw a sock away before running the rest of the race with just one shoe and finishing in seventh position in 9 minutes 34.7 seconds, more than 20 seconds off her personal best.

The International Association of Athletics Federations also cleared Ireland’s Sara Louise Treacy and Jamaica’s Aisha Praught to run in the Monday’s (August 15th) final. after reviewing video replays of the race following protests by their teams. Australia’s Genevieve Lacaze, who finished second with a time of 9:26.5 to qualify for the next round, complained that the Etenesh Diro’s mishap had obstructed the track.

“She was like a road block,” the 27-year-old said to Reuters. “Someone ripped out her heel and, instead of getting out of the way – I guess you don’t think about others too much when you’re in the Olympics – she just stopped and was a roadblock for about four girls.”