The 27-year-old Lalita, who had won the bronze medal in the event in the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, two years ago, emulated ‘Payyoli Express’ P T Usha by entering the final.
Lalita, in fact, finished with the seventh-best time in the heats by clipping nearly seven seconds off the existing national mark standing in the name of Sudha (9:26.55), clocked in Shanghai in May.
The top three in the three heats gained automatic qualification while Lalita made the grade as one of the six fastest from among the rest. Had she ran in the third heat she would have qualified as the winner of that race.
After qualifying for the final, an elated Lalita said that she was looking to give her best in the final on the Independence Day. Lalita will be seen in the final on August 15.
Lalita, thus, became the second Indian woman to qualify for an Olympic final in track and field after 'Payyoli Express' P T Usha in the 400m hurdles in 1984 at Los Angeles