Getting into a ‘box’ can be a really frustrating experience for a middle distance runner. Forced to trim the stride, one could lose rhythm, pace and the race too.

Abitha Mary Manuel, a former Commonwealth Youth Games bronze medallist and a clear favourite for the women’s 800m gold, was caught in the box at the 78th National inter-university athletics championship at the Acharya Nagarjuna University on Thursday.

The 19-year-old from Calicut University, who ran in the under-20 Worlds in Poland last year, felt trapped, with the others all around her. For more than a minute, it looked like Abitha was being carried by the other runners, virtually cutting out all escape routes. Helpless, she was forced to slow down. By the time the tall girl, who has a personal best of 2:06.19s – a sort of time which should have seen her whip the field, found her way out around the 600m mark, it was too late.

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Nagpur’s Sayali Waghmare (PB 2:11.01s), who was runner-up in the last two editions, made the most of it with a patient early run and a strong finish for the gold in a personal best time. In the end, Abitha finished without a medal with GNDU’s Twinkle Choudhary and Madras’ K. Priya taking silver and bronze.

“I did not expect the gold at all, not with Abitha around,” said Sayali.


Delhi international Amoj Jacob, the senior Federation Cup champion, had no such worries in the men’s 800m as he brushed away the field in a personal best and meet record time. It was Amoj’s second gold with record.

“I didn’t expect my personal best here, it was too hot,” said the 19-year-old from Delhi’s Khalsa College who will now shift his focus to next year’s Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.


Meanwhile Kerala-born Mariya Jaison, from Bengaluru’s Jain University, made light of a three-hour wait for her event to start and broke the women’s pole vault record with a 3.65m effort.

The results (winners only):

Men: 800m: Amoj Jacob (Delhi) 1:49.70s MR, OR 1:50.30. 110m hurdles: Maymon Paulose (Calicut) 14.19s MR, OR 14.20. 3000m steeple chase: Haribaksh Singh (Mangalore) 9:15.65s. Long jump: P.S. Vishnu (Madras) 7.68m. Javelin throw: Arun Baby (Mangalore) 72.91m.

Women: 800m: Sayali Waghmare (RSTM Nagpur) 2:09.90s. 100m hurdles: Sapna Kumari (Vinoba Bhave, Jkd) 13.72s EMR. 3000m steeple chase: C. Jyothi Jagabahadur (Mangalore) 10;36.19s MR, OR 10:43.60. Pole vault: Mariya Jaison (Jain, Ban.) 3.65m NR, OR 3.60. Javelin throw: Poonam (C. Devi Lal, Har.) 51.71m.