Arokia Rajiv, Lalita set natl records; Sudha makes it to Rio

Lalita Babbar bettered her own national record by a fraction of a second in women’s 3000 metres steeplechase, and in the process helped Asian Games gold medallist Sudha Singh (9:31.86) make it to Rio Games.

Sudha Singh (right) is the second person from India to qualify for the Rio Olympics in the 3000m steeplechase. Lalita Babbar (Left) had already qualified

Arokia Rajiv enlivened the proceedings with a national record in men’s 400 metres with a time of 45.47 seconds, but could not hide his disappointment at missing the Olympic qualification mark narrowly on the second day of the 20th Federation Cup athletics championships at the Nehru Stadium here on Friday.

‘’I was confident of getting the Olympic qualification mark (45.40 seconds). I was a bit tight in the end’’, said Rajiv, who is with the Madras Regimental Centre, based in Ooty. Saying that he was not sharp in the Grand Prix last week, when he was beaten by Muhammed Anas, the 24-year-old Arokia Rajiv said that he was happy about beating the long-standing national record of 45.48 clocked by K.M. Binu in Athens Olympics.

‘’The aim was to qualify for the Olympics. National record would have been automatic. Yes, it gives me happiness that the record is in my name now’’, said Rajiv who had trained in Turkey for three months with coach Muhammed Kunhu and foreign expert Yuriy Ogorodnik.

The coach Muhammed Kunhu reasoned that Muhammed Anas could not push even up to the 300 metres, and thus the qualification mark had eluded Arokia Rajiv. ‘’We have training in Poland, followed by competitions in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Belgium. Am confident that we would qualify for the Olympics, said the coach.

Later, under the floodlights and in a cool atmosphere, Lalita Babbar bettered her own national record by a fraction of a second in women’s 3000 metres steeplechase, and in the process helped Asian Games gold medallist Sudha Singh (9:31.86) make it to Rio Games, comfortably below the Olympic qualification mark of 9:45.00.

Lalita had already qualified for Olympics, and Sudha was keen to capitalise on this chance to qualify in a track event, even though she had qualified in marathon. Both Sudha and coach Nikolai Snesarev expected a better time, as the coach stressed that with such timings it would not be possible to even make the finals in the Olympics.

Much in contrast, O.P. Jaisha’s attempt to qualify for the Olympics in women’s 1500 metres did not fructify, even though she outclassed the field by nearly 100 metres. Jaisha, who has, like Sudha Singh, quallifed for the Olympics in marathon, clocked 4 minutes 18.69 seconds. Coach Nikolai Snesarev was not surprised and said that there was enough time for Jaisha to reach to the qualification mark of 4:07.00.

Anilda Thomas continued to push M.R. Poovamma to the second spot in women’s 400 metres, and clocked her personal best of 52.40 seconds, as the qualification mark eluded her by 0.20 seconds.

The results:

Men:

400m: 1. Arokia Rajiv (TN) 45.47 (NR, old 45.48); 2. Muhammed Anas (Ker) 45.75; 3. Kunhu Muhammed (Army) 46.08; 1500m: 1. Ajay Kumar Saroha (ONGC) 3:44.60; 2. Sandeep Singh (Har) 3:45.86; 3. Rahul Harveer (Del) 3:46.07; 3000m steeplechase: 1. Naveen Kumar (Har) 8:55.04; 2. Durga Bahadur Budha (Man) 9:01.91; 3. Sachin Patil (Mah) 9:12.99; Long Jump: 1. Kumaravel Premkumar (Rlys) 7.88; 2. Ankit Sharma (Har) 7.76; 3. SE Samsheer (Kar) 7.62; Decathlon: 1. Narender (Har) 7049; 2. Jagtar Dhillon (Raj) 6860; 3. Muhammed Hafse (Ker) 6853.

Women:

400m: 1. Anilda Thomas (Ker) 52.40; 2. MR Poovamma (ONGC) 52.60; 3. Jauna Murmu (ONGC) 53.37; 1500m: 1. OP Jaisha (Ker) 4:18.69; 2. PU Chitra (Ker) 4:29.17; 3. Adesh Kumari (Har) 4:30.58; 3000m steeplechase: 1. Lalita Babbar (Mah) 9:27.09 (NR, old 9:27.86); 2. Sudha Singh (UP) 9:31.86; 3. Parul Chaudhary (UP) 10:47.49; High jump: 1. Sahana Kumari (Kar) 1.80; 2. Angel Devasia (Ker) 1.73; 3. KC Chandana (Kar) 1.73; Discus: 1. Krishna Poonia (Har) 55.09; 2. Sandeep Kumari (Har) 54.93; 3. Navjeet Kaur Dhillon (ONGC) 53.65.

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