Inspired by the anime character Goku, Amlan breaks the 200m national record

Sprinter Amlan Borgohain is so fiercely competitive that he doesn’t like to finish behind anyone, not even in heats. He was so disappointed after finishing second in his heat group on Tuesday that trainer James Hillier and his psychologist had to have a long talk to get him in the right frame of mind for the final.

But what really motivated him to return on Wednesday for the 200m final and break the national record with a run of 20.52s was last night’s anime (Japanese animation) binge marathon.

“I’m a big fan of anime and I watch a lot of Drag Ball Z and get inspired by Goku (the main character). So after talking to my coach and psychologist, I watched a lot of episodes on the internet and it cheered me up. One thing anime has taught me is that there is no limit. That’s why I push myself every day,” said Amlan, who trains at the Reliance Foundation’s high-performance center in Bhubaneswar.

Amlan, 23, burst onto the scene last year after winning the senior national open title with India’s fifth-fastest time of 20.75s. Since then, Coach Hillier has helped him improve his running technique and strategy, especially the first 50 meters and the last 30 meters. Amlan’s Fed Cup run eclipsed Mohammed Ansas’ previous national record of 20.63s.

“We went back to nationals last year and found out where we can make two or three meters of improvement. The first 50m was definitely an area we could work on, and in the last 30m it was already good, but we were able to do super well. We work to get faster to the first 50 m. Also getting a little bit better at cornering,” Hillier explained.

If Amlan is passionate about something other than anime, it’s soccer. He still feels that soccer is his first love, but the junior national-level midfielder switched to sprinting because he was often injured on the pitch. But now Amlan’s undivided focus is on athletics and he wants to inspire other youngsters to take up sprinting.
Trainer Hillier is happy with Amlan’s progress so far, but feels it is still a work in progress.

“He is slimmer than ever and fitter than ever. Obviously he is faster as he has broken the record. He is also more tactically aware now. It’s not just about running fast, there are tactics and elements,” said the coach.

Amlan ran in less than ideal conditions. Just a few minutes after his race, the Mohammed Koya Stadium in Kozhikode was hit by heavy rain. The humidity exhausted the athlete from Assam at the end of the race. Amlan knows that he needs to prepare for his upcoming competition, but he has a task to complete by the time he lands in Hyderabad.

“I have printed 20.50 on the cover of my phone. Since I’ve almost made it, I’ll set a new goal. In Dragon Ball Z, Goku always keeps getting better in battle. I feel like I have to be like Goku and be more one at the next event. I never give up.”