KOCHI: Not often does an Indian athlete rise to No. 3 in world rankings in athletics. A 17-year-old from Malappuram, Muhammed Hanan, has done just that by clocking the third-best timing in the 110m hurdles in the U-18 boys category in the latest rankings published by World Athletics.
Hanan achieved the feat at the South Zone Junior Athletics Meet at the Calicut University Stadium in February this year. He clocked 13.80 seconds to grab the gold medal in the meet. Little did he know that the effort would put him just behind South Africans Michael-Jan De Beer and Ismail Mujahid in the latest world rankings released by World Athletics.
“I didn’t even know such a ranking existed till a few days back. I saw my name on the World Athletics website two or three days back and my joy knew no bounds. My timings have improved over the years and the performance at the Calicut University stadium was my best. But I didn’t realise that it would put me on the list of elite athletes in my age category in the world,” said the plus two student of Devdhar Government Higher Secondary School.
Hailing from Tanur in Malappuram district, Hanan got tuned into athletics early as both his elder brothers, Muhammed Harshad and Muhammed Ashique, are hurdlers. In fact, Harshad, who is doing MPES at MG University, Kottayam has taken his younger brother under his wings and gives him regular training. Initially, Hanan and his brothers used to train in the bylanes and beaches of Tanur. Seeing Hanan’s potential, Harshad decided to take him to the Rajiv Gandhi Municipal stadium in Tirur, which has a synthetic track, two years back. The decision has been a turning point in blossoming Hanan’s career.
“Barring lockdown, we have been travelling twice every day to Tirur, which is 12 kilometres away, to train. My confidence has improved after practising there and it is showing in my improved performance,” said Hanan.
Harshad feels there is more to come from his younger brother if he gets the right equipment for training. “He runs on his own spikes, but that is not enough. We don’t have enough sets of hurdles at the stadium and the ones that are there are old and worn out. He also doesn’t have a starting block to train. I am sure all this would make a difference to Hanan’s performance. If someone comes up to sponsor him, I am sure Kerala would add another Olympian to the list,” said Harshad.