Taiwan Athletics Open: Lucky silver for Neethu

Assumption College’s Neethu, who set meet records in 5000 and 10,000m at Kerala College Games in Kozhikode in March, won the women’s 1500m silver in 4:43.40s.

Kerala's U. Neethu won the women's 1500m silver in the Taiwan Athletics Open on Friday.

She may not have taken part in any national championships under the Athletics Federation of India’s banner but Kerala’s U. Neethu was lucky to bag a silver on her international debut at the Taiwan Athletics Open in Taipei City on Friday.

Assumption College’s Neethu, who set meet records in 5000 and 10,000m at Kerala College Games in Kozhikode in March, won the women’s 1500m silver in a rather mediocre 4:43.40s, behind North Korea’s Son-Hui Kim (4:35.75).

The meet organisers have managed to rope in some big names, including South Africa’s World champion Luvo Manyonga, whose name figures in the entry list for Saturday’s men’s long jump, in some of the events but that was not the case in the women’s 1500m and Neethu was very lucky to win her maiden international medal.

Meanwhile, another Kerala athlete Rajna Jabbar was eighth in the women’s javelin throw with 36.22m, an event won by Japan’s Mikako Yamashita with a meet record of 57.83m.

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With the Indian juniors getting ready for the next month’s Asian junior championships in Japan and many of the seniors busy training abroad for the coming Asian Games in Indonesia, the  three Kerala girls – U.V. Sruthiraj who will be running the women’s 200m on Saturday is the other – found themselves representing the country in rather strange circumstances even without making a mark in the national circuit.

“The Athletics Federation of India asked if any of the States were interested to go for this Taiwan Open on their own expense. And these three athletes were willing. They just needed to pay for the flight fare, the other things are being taken care by the organisers,” said P.I. Babu, the Kerala Athletics Association Secretary, on Friday night.

“We had planned to send long and triple jumper Sandra Babu and 400m runner V.K. Vismaya but the former is going for the junior Asians while Vismaya has gone to Poland for training.”

Incidentally, Vietnam’s Thi Lan Quach – who won the Asian championship silver in Bhubaneswar last year behind India’s Nirmala Sheoran – won the women’s 400m gold in Taipei in 52.82s.