On a day of withdrawals, hot favourites V. Muhammed Ajmal (Kerala) and Aishwarya Mishra (Maharashtra) qualified for the finals winning their respective semifinals with ease in the 4th National Open 400m championships at the LNCPE here on Saturday.
National Games gold medallist Ajmal after a slow start pulled away from the field at the home stretch to win the second semifinal in 47.77s. Vikrant Panchal, the early leader, came in second in 48.40s.
The first semifinal was more competitive and saw T. Santosh Kumar (Tamil Nadu) pip Kerala’s Mijo Chacko Kurian at the finish. Santosh clocked 48.01s while Mijo came in second at 48.04s. Subham Dattatray (Maharashtra) was third in 48.11s.
Aishwarya Mishra led from start to finish to win her semifinal easily in 54.09s. Deepanshi (Haryana) was second in 55.87s while Kerala’s A.S. Sandhra finished third in 57.99s to qualify for the finals.
National campers DandI Jyothika Sri (AP), Kiran Pahal (Haryana) and Gowrinanda (Kerala) were engaged in a tight race in the second semifinal. Kiran was marginally ahead of the trio at the 350-metre mark. However, Jyothika (54.45s) finished strongly to edge out Kiran (54.48s) while Gowrnandana came third in 54.55s.
Spate of withdrawals in the under-20, under-18 and under-16 categories forced the organisers to cancel the heats and semifinals. Most of the junior athletes have skipped the event as it clashed with the Junior nationals and All India inter-university meet.