The 28-year-old Chaudhary has been training at Colorado Springs — which is at an altitude of 1800m above sea level — along with star men’s 3000m steeplechaser Avinash Sable since March 20.
She set a national record of 15:10.35s in the 5000m race at the Track Festival in Walnut, California, on May 6 before clocking her personal best of 9:29.51s in her pet event of 3000m steeplechase at the USATF Los Angeles Grand Prix on May 26.
“I have benefitted immensely from the high-altitude training at Colorado Springs. Last year, I was here (Colorado Springs) for just 25 days, but this time, it has been two months now here, doing high-altitude training,” Chaudhary told PTI from her training base at Colorado Springs.
“The continuous training for two months is showing in my timing. The season has been great for me so far. I am currently in training-cum-competition mode, and once the main international competitions of the season start, I hope to achieve my goals.”
Chaudhary, the daughter of a farmer from Bahrala village in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut district, is currently training under foreign coach Scott Simmons and Indian coach Jaiveer Singh.
Target is Asian Games medal and breaking Lalita Babar’s national record
In the senior circuit for nearly 10 years without much international success, Chaudhary is hoping this season to be a defining one as she aims for medals in the Hangzhou Asian Games in September-October.
In the 2018 Asian Games, the 5000m gold-medal winner had clocked 15:08.08s while the silver winner ran 15:30.57s, which is much more than the national record set by Chaudhary last month.
In 3000m steeplechase, veteran Indian Sudha Singh had won silver in the 2018 Asian Games with a time of 9:40.03s, as against Chaudhary’s personal best of 9:29.51s which she clocked last month.
“From 2014 Asian Games onwards, any time between 9:30 and 9:40 has won a 3000m steeplechase medal in the Asian Games. I hope to peak around September and win medal in the Asian Games,” said Chaudhary who is supported by Inspire Institute of Sports (IIS).
She is also hoping to break Lalita Babar’s 3000m steeplechase national record of 9:19.76s set in 2016 during the Rio Olympics. Considering the improvement in timings from 9:51.01s in 2021 and 9:38.09s in 2022 to 9:29.51s last month, Chaudhary may achieve her target.
“In fact, I tried my best to run sub-9:20 in my last race (Los Angeles Grand Prix on May 26) but it did not materialise. In hindsight, I thought if I had skipped an earlier race, I could have achieved my target (of sub 9:20),” she said.
“It is alright because I should not peak so early. I am still not doing much speed work. It is more like training off season without any special workout. There will be special workouts closer to main events like Asian Championships, World Championships and Asian Games.
“If I continue like this and achieves my peak form later in the year, I should be able to break the national record (in 3000m steeplechase).”
Chaudhary has won a lone medal in a major international event — a 5000m bronze in the Doha Asian Championships in 2019.
Hoping to make it to Budapest World Championships in August
Chaudhary also has a chance to qualify for the 3000m steeplechase in World Athletics Championships in Budapest (August 19-27) though she is yet to breach the qualifying standard of 9:23.00s. She is currently in 26th spot out of the 36 athletes to compete in the event.
But to secure a spot on the basis of world rankings if she fails to breach the qualifying mark, Chaudhary will have to compete in important events to collect points till July 30.
“I am coming back to India in a few days to compete in the National Inter-State Championships in Bhubaneswar (from June 15-19). Then there is the Asian Championships in Thailand (if selected) in July. After that, I will come back and take part in some international competitions.”