Asian Junior Athletics: Kamalraj, Ajit strike gold

K. Kamalraj warded off pain to clinch top honours as India finished third on the medal table with five golds.

Kamalraj, who has a personal best of 16.41m - which came last year -, has already qualified for next month’s under-20 Worlds.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

He had planned a big jump at Gifu, Japan, on Sunday. But shortly after his first jump, a 15.75m, Tamil Nadu triple jumper K. Kamalraj felt a severe pain in his ankle. He attempted a second round, though it was around 16.50m and was flagged down as a foul.

Still, Kamalraj’s first attempt was good enough to clinch gold on the final day of the 19th Asian junior championships. India won another gold, through Ajit Kumar in the men’s 5000m, and finished third with 17 medals including five gold, two silver and 10 bronze.

“My body condition was in top shape here. I was definitely hoping to cross 16.50m and break the national record (Arpinder Singh’s 16.45m), now I feel very bad, very sad. The ankle pain spoiled everything,” said the 18-year-old Tiruppur triple jumper who was coached by former international Nizamuddin and is now being trained by national jumps coach Bedros Bedrosian in Thiruvananthapuram.

“I had pain right from the first jump. Now, the doctors have told me to take a week’s rest," he added.

Kamalraj, who has a personal best of 16.41m - which came last year -, has already qualified for next month’s under-20 Worlds.

There were no such worries for the Allahabad-based Ajit as he clocked a personal best 14:15.24m (previous best 14:38.10s) for the men’s 5000m gold. He had clocked a personal best in the 1500m earlier, however, it could only earn him a sixth place. Gurpreet, the other Indian in the 5000m, finished fifth, also with a personal best.

Meanwhile, the Indian women’s 4x400m relay team – the defending champion – was pipped at the post by Japan and had to be content with silver.

The Indian squad, comprising Jisna Mathew, Subha Venkatesan, Nidhi Yogendra Singh and Rachna, clocked 3:41.11s. Jisna, clearly one of the big stars of the championship with her 400m gold earlier, also won a bronze in the women’s 200m.