National Open Athletics: Ravinder, Shivpal shine

It isn't often that a record in an event is broken twice over on the same day, but Ravinder Singh and Shivpal Singh managed to do so in the men's javelin throw at the 56th National Open Athletics Championships.

Ajay Kumar Saroj leads the pack on his way to winning the 1500m at the 56th National Open Athletics   -  Special Arrangement

It isn't often that a record in an event is broken twice over on the same day, but Ravinder Singh and Shivpal Singh managed to do so in the men's javelin throw at the 56th National Open Athletics Championships here on Wednesday. Coming back from injury, Ravinder managed a throw of 79.04m to go past the meet record of 77.67m set by Neeraj Chopra last year. Shivpal, who placed second, also managed to go past with a throw of 77.72m.

For a competition that has been short of big names and fared worse in terms of performances so far, the second day of the event saw enough action to make up for the disappointment including its first record. Besides the two records, the day also saw Ashwini Akkunji return to form in the 400m, an event she had largely neglected in the last few years while concentrating on the 4x400m relay, with a season's best of 53.25 seconds.

Ravinder's previous best was 78.11m at the Inter-State Championships in Hyderabad earlier this year. “I have made some changes to my technique, including the arm bend and release, while working with throwing coach Garry Calvert since moving to Bangalore recently. I was trying to execute those changes during the heats also yesterday but could not keep my balance. Today it worked out much better,” Ravinder told Sportstar.

Australian Calvert had joined the Indian team in February this year and was instrumental in Chopra's gold-winning performance at the Under-20 World Championships recently.

Saying he was targeting going past 80m mark, Ravinder admitted that he was yet to get the technique right consistently and said he was not preparing for any specific competition at the moment. “My main aim is to work on my technique and train hard with Calvert. If I do that consistently, results will come themselves regardless of the competition,” said Ravinder, who spent four years (2009-13) in Melbourne — doubling up as a taxi driver while pursuing diploma as a motor mechanic and training simultaneously — before returning home.

Injury in 2014 before the Commonwealth Games halted his training for a couple of years, but the 30-year old is thankful to the Railways Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) for constant support. “I know it is not common in India to seek inspiration from someone younger than you. But I feel Neeraj has done something really special for Indian athletics and he is an inspiration. At 19, he has won a World Championship only through hard work and there is no shame in accepting that he has set a new standard for Indian athletes. I wish to do something similar,” he said.

Ashwini, meanwhile, bettered her performance this year (53.98, Poland) and ran the second fastest lap of her career after 2011. “For most athletes coming here, it is because of department pressure. But I have chosen to come here to improve on my own timing and work on my running,” she said adding that she was looking to concentrate more on the individual event in the coming months. Only five Indians who went to Rio Olympics have arrived here, including Ashwini, with Khushbir Kaur not starting the 20km walk.

The day also saw both individual athletes and teams win in events that they have struggled in in the last few editions. While H. M. Jyothi won her second 100m title in the competition after a gap of eight years, Abhishek Shetty got Railways gold in the decathlon after 18 years. Meanwhile, Arokya Rajeev completed his hat-trick of titles in the 1500m and Manpreet Kaur made it four in a row in shot put.

There was drama around the results of the 20km women's race walk with Rani Yadav of Uttar Pradesh claiming officials had deliberately forced her to do an extra lap and end her hopes of a silver. “I had timed every single lap and was far ahead of the others in second place. But the officials told me I had completed one lap less, forcing me to do an extra lap and ensure I did not get a medal in the process,” she alleged.

She also blamed the UP team manager and coaches of colluding in the decision and not lodging a formal complaint. However, she did not say why she herself did not give a written complaint to the officials.

Technical officials, however, refuted the claim. “She is from UP. If anything, the organisers would love to see her win a medal. But there are two lap officials with their own master-sheets recording every athlete's number of laps and their timings. Both sit separately and in this case, both had identical records. How can both be wrong? She made a verbal protest and we still looked into the matter but found everything in order,” a UPAA official said.


Men: 100m: 1. Sanjeeth (SSCB, 10.55), 2. Anuroop John (Ker, 10.63), Manikanda Raj (RSPB, 10.63); 400m: 1. Arokya Rajeev (SSCB, 46.70), 2. Sumeet Kumar (Man, 47.13), 3. Noah Nirmal Tom (SSCB, 47.28); 1500m: 1. Ajay Saroj (RSPB, 3:51.82), 2. Sandeep Kumar (SSCB, 3:52.21), 3. Siddhant Adhikari (SSCB, 3:52.56); 110m hurdles: 1. Akhil Jhonson (SSCB, 14.10), 2. Pinto Mathew A (RSPB, 14.24), 3. Shiva Kumar (SSCB, 14.28); Long Jump: 1. Md Anees (Ker, 7.65), 2. Jinesh VO (SSCB, 7.50), 3. Bikramjit Singh (Pun, 7.49); Javelin Throw: 1. Ravinder Singh (RSPB, 79.04), 2. Shivpal Singh (SSCB, 77.72), 3. Davender Singh (SSCB, 76.41); Decathlon: 1. Abhishek Shetty (RSPB, 6991); 2. Daya Ram (SSCB, 6954), 3. Boota Singh (SSCB, 6892).

Women: 100m: 1. HM Jyothi (Kar, 11.57), Reena George (Kar, 11.78), Neethu Mathew (LIC, 12.06); 400m: 1. Ashwini Akkunji (Kar, 53.25), 2. Santosh Kumari (AIPCB, 54.13), 3. Sarita Gayakwad (Guj, 54.56); 1500m: 1. Lili Das (WB, 4:20.91), 2. Pratima Tudu (WB, 4:23.08), 3. Chitra PU (Ker, 4:24.33); 100m hurdles: 1. Purnima Hembram (RSPB, 13.96), 2. Sugina M (Ker, 14.06), 3. Sumandeep Kaur (MP, 14.18); Shot Put: 1. Manpreet Kaur (RSPB, 16.22), 2. Navjeet Kaur (ONGC, 14.26), 3. Kiranjot Kaur (Pun, 13.53); Hammer Throw: 1. Sarita Singh (RSPB, 60.35), 2. Minakshi (AIPCB, 55.87), 3. Poonam Devi (RSPB, 54.59); 20km walk: Soumya B (AIPCB, 1:44:32), 2. Priyanka (ONGC, 1:49:56), 3. Shanti Kumari (RSPB, 1:52:58).

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