India's Vithya Ramraj set the 400m track at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Complex ablaze here on Monday by equaling the legendary PT Usha's 40-year-old National Record in the women's 400m hurdles at the 19th Asian Games here on Monday.
Vithya, who once contemplated quitting athletics altogether as things were not going well for her and was not able to make a breakthrough at the international stage, clocked 55.42 seconds in the heats for the 400m hurdles in Monday's morning session to equal one of the oldest records still existing in Indian athletics.
Usha, now the president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), had set the National Record way back in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles when she missed the bronze medal by a whisker.
Running in the first heat, the 24-year-old Vithya, who hails from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, finished first ahead of Jamal Aminat Oluwaseun Yusuf of Bahrain. The Indian runner got off to a slow start but made up for it later as she cruised to her personal best time of 55.42.
A few weeks back, Vithya had come close to breaking Usha's record when she clocked 55.43, missing equalling the record by 0.01 seconds. On Monday in Hangzhou, she managed to equal that time, clocking the second-best timing in the field behind Bahrain's
Oluwakemi Mujidat Adekoya, who finished Heat 2 in 55.17. Bahrain's African import Adekoya will be the runner to beat in the final in which Vithya will be attempting to break Usha's record.