Lalita Babar, the Indian athlete who after becoming the hat-trick winner of the Mumbai Marathon in 2014, decided to switch to 3000m steeplechase.
She went on to break the national record twice in the 3000m steeplechase and created history by becoming the first track athlete from India to reach the final round in the IAAF World Championships. She has also qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics after winning the gold medal at the 2015 Asian Championships.
The story of Jaisha Orchatteri Puthiya Veetil, mostly known as O.P. Jaisha, is exactly the mirror image of Lalita Babar. O.P. Jaisha initially started competing in the middle distance events including 1500m and 3000m steeplechase. She is a former national record holder in 3000m steeplechase and clinched 1500m bronze at the 2014 Asian Games held in Incheon.
The following year, she made her marathon debut at the Mumbai Marathon and secured first place in the Indian women’s category, also breaking a 19-year-old record in the process.
In August 2015, Jaisha participated in the marathon at the World Championships in Beijing, where she finished 18th clocking 2:34.43. Another participant from India, Sudha Singh, was right behind Jaisha and stood at 19th spot with a time of 2:35.35, which is her personal best and is also better than Jaisha’s previous national record of 2:37.29.
Both Jaisha and Singh improved upon the former’s national record time set earlier in the year at the Mumbai Marathon, and both also qualified for the 2016 Olympics by virtue of their showing. The qualifying standard for marathon in Rio Olympics is 2:42:00