Amlan Borgohain of Assam won the 200m title at the Open Nationals in Warangal on Sunday with the second-best timing on Indian soil, but it came at a cost. The 23-year-old had to give up his first love, football, before taking up athletics seriously, clocking 20.75 seconds to finish comfortably ahead of Balakumar Nitin (21.06) and Nalabothu Shamugha (21.12).
“I was getting injured very often while playing football and my mum did not like it. You know how moms are, right?” says Amlan whose 20.75s is also the fifth-best all-time run by an Indian. Troubled by the sight of her son’s frequently bandaged ankles, she decided it was time to put her foot down.
“My mom asked me to either switch to a different sport or quit entirely. Playing football wasn’t an option anymore. It was a tough decision to make,” recalls the Cristiano Ronaldo and Sunil Chhetri “superfan”. A contactless sport like running was an easy choice to make, and after his first school meet he realised, this new discipline matched the adrenaline kick football gave him.
Amlan was seen by James Hillier, the head coach of Reliance Foundation Odisha Athletics High-Performance Centre in Bhubaneswar, during a tournament in July 2019 just as he was looking for a mentor to assist him develop to the next level.