Patiala, IndiaThe National Senior InterState championships, billed as Final Selection Trials for Indian aspirants for the Commonwealth Games, witnessed some memorable moments at the four-day competition which concluded on Sunday (8).
Although he made a couple of appearances in some low-key continental meets since last year, no one predicted Uttarakhand’s Pankaj Dimri (20) to pull out a surprise here, particularly on a wet track after a downpour on the second day’s afternoon. He ran an all-out race in men’s 800m and clocked an impressive 1:46.26 for a meet record. It was incidentally the best by an Indian on home soil. He missed the 34-year-old national record of Sri Ram Singh (1:45.77) set in the Montreal Olympics and the Indian All-Comers’ Record (1:45.93) held by Billy Konchellah. He may have surpassed those marks had he not turned back to see the who was trailing on the home-straight. Tamil Nadu runner Francis Sagayaraj made a gallant effort to secure second in 1:46.77, which put him fourth in the all-time rankings. Manjit Singh of Punjab who got the bronze in 1:47.24, also bettered the previous meet record of 1:47.99.
In the women’s 400m, Mandeep Kaur from host-state Punjab humbled the opposition to win the event in a noteworthy 52.13, which however fell short of her personal best and meet record of 51.74 she clocked two years ago at Madurai.
Both Dimri and Kaur were adjudged best athletes of the meet.
Junior Thingalaya ready for the senior stage in the 110m Hurdles
Siddhanth Thingalaya of Maharashtra could be been playing football had he not opted for hurdling seven years ago. The tall (1.91m/6-3) second year commerce student from Mumbai’s Mithibai College drew attention when he clinched the Indian inter-university title in the 110m Hurdles two years ago. Mittal Champions Trust gifted him with a voyage to South Africa this year where he clocked a modest 14.31 at high altitude Potchefstroom. He went on to win a silver medal in the Asian junior championships at Hanoi, Vietnam at the beginning of last month and made an exposure tour to Moncton for the World juniors thereafter.
He improved his PB to 14.20 in the heats of men’s 110m hurdles and everyone looked at him eagerly when he lined-up on the evening’s final. Once hearing the report of the pistol, Siddhanth exploded out of the blocks and made a heavenly finish ahead of his senior colleagues. At 13.81 he was a clear winner and improved the previous national mark by a hefty 0.15. His margin of victory was a phenomenal 0.65 secs, the biggest at the nationals in recent times.
Every weekend Siddhanth travels to Balewadi in Pune from his home at Andheri in Mumbai to train under Ajit Kulkarni, who helped him to improve rapidly in four months. “Siddhanth is just 19 and has potential to win medals in global competitions,” his coach said.
“I need to put a lot of hard work to win medals at that level,” the prodigy admitted when asked about his chances for a podium finish at the Commonwealth and Asian Games.
Two athletes from Kerala state improved national records. Triple jumper MayookhaJohny was back in action after a one-and-a-half year lay-off following a ligament injury during the inter-university championships at Kochi in 2008. After posting an impressive 6.64m career best leap to win the gold in long jump at the Asian All-Stars Meet at New Delhi last month, Mayookha took the runway in the Triple Jump, which was partially dried with the help of a vacuum cleaner after the mid afternoon rain at Patiala. With water seeping out from under the take off-board each time an athlete made an attempt one could hardly imagine a record that day. However Mayookha (21), the Junior Accounts Officer with Oil and Natural Gas Commission, made her intentions clear as she started leading the field with a first round 13.32m and to 13.65m in the second. Her record leap of 13.68m came next and she retired thereafter to preserve herself for the major events scheduled few weeks from now.
The women’s 3000m Steeplechase is a relatively new event on the national scene, having been introduced just seven years ago. O.P. Jaisha, after running together with national record holder Sudha Singh for most of the race, made the move at the bell and went on to win the event in 10:03.05. Jaisha’s victory thus enabled Kerala state to retain the overall champion title with 8 gold, 7 silver and 3 bronze medals.
Harwant and Hardeep excel in throws
After a training stint at New Zealand, hammer thrower Hardeep Kaur set out the ball and chain to win the women’s hammer throw in 61.21m. Discus thrower Harwant Kaur defends her title with a throw of 60.66m, pushing aside the challenge from Asian Games bronze medalist Krishna Poonia (60.44m). Seema Antil, former World junior bronze medallist, Commonwealth Games silver medalist and national record holder, finished third at 56.06m.
Asian champion Om Prakash Singh of Haryana won the men’s Shot Put with a season’s best 19.99m toss. Delhi boy Saurabh Vij, who surprised everyone with a 20.65m put in his recent state meet at the Indian capital, garnered the silver in 19.91m.
Athletes from hosts Punjab made a breakthrough in the national athletics arena after a long hiatus. A strong state in track and filed, Punjab started to slip away from top rankings a few years ago. However the inter-state meet, originally scheduled at Hyderabad in mid-September but instead organised at Patiala by the Punjab Athletics Association, brought a new life to the state’s athletes as they briefly led the medal tally and settled as runners-up with 7 gold, 4 silver and 5 bronze medals, behind winners Kerala, and just ahead of Haryana (7-3-5).
Held at the grounds of Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports in Moti Bagh, Patiala, for the first time in its 48-year-old history, the national championships provide an ideal opportunity for many youngsters who gathered here for four days to stay and enjoy the serene atmosphere of the Moghul of Indian sporting gurus. Spread over 300 acres of land and the palatial buildings fondly donated by the Maharajah of Patiala, the NSNIS is the biggest sporting institution in Asia and a regular host for national camps in various sports. It produces hundreds of elite coaches in each term.