Rio de Janeiro, August 13, 2016:Â Athlete Saraswati Bhattarai broke the 16-year-old national record in womenâ€™s 1,500m heats of the Olympic Games here at the Olympic Stadium on Friday.
The 23-year-old athlete from Tribhuvan Army Club finished the race in four minutes and 33.94 seconds to shatter Raj Kumari Pandeyâ€™s record of 4:34.47 set during the Beijing Asian Games in 1990.
â€œI am more than happy today. I had dreamt of holding the 1,500m record in my name and Iâ€™m glad that I could do that in Olympics. What should I ask for more,â€ Bhattarai told The Himalayan Times. She finished 13th in the 14-athlete heat and did not qualify for the semi-finals.
Bhattarai entered the Olympics under Universality Places along with middle-distance runner Hari Kumar Rimal. The 42 athletes competing in the event were divided in three groups of 14. Top six each from three heat rounds and next six best athletes qualified for the semi-finals.
Her previous best timing in 1,500m race was four minutes and 40.03 seconds which she got during the 12th South Asian Games.
Bhattarai, who hails from Dadeldhura district, said she had put in a lot of efforts to achieve the feat. â€œNot only me, my coaches and seniors had also worked hard for me,â€ said Bhattarai. â€œWe trained under Pushpa Raj Ojha and the preparation was also satisfactory.â€
Bhattarai had made her entry into athletics through Presidentâ€™s Running Shield eight years ago. She then participated in district and regional events before making her national championship debut one year later. She had taken part in 1,500m and 3,000m events in her first national championship in 2010.
After participating in 800m and 1,500m races in the sixth National Games in Dhangadhi, Bhattarai bagged gold medals in both the events of the 39th National Athletics Championships. She also won silver medal in 800m race at the Thailand Open last year.
She was in Nepalâ€™s squad in the 12th SAG held in India earlier this year. She set her personal best time in 1,500m apart from taking part in 800m race in Guwahati.
Another athlete Kumar Rimal, also from TAC, is scheduled to take part in 800m race on August 17.
ByÂ Mahesh Acharya