Slippery conditions, cold and damp weather and a makeshift Shot put field, nothing could deter Tajinderpal Singh Toor from clinching the gold at the 61st National Open Athletics Championships at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Sunday.
The Asian record holder came up with 20.68m heave, 24cm shy of his own meet record.
If a torrential downpour before the start of evening session made it incredibly difficult for athletes to stay warm and also grip the Shot, the shifting of the rink to a small area between the track and the ringed fence near the stands made them feel claustrophobic.
Generally used to the large expanse of the main field at an athletics stadium, the competitors weren’t pleased that they were denied the space, both in training and competition, for the fear of damaging the grass that would affect ISL football activities.
A Karnataka Athletics Association (KAA) official confirmed that the State government’s Department of Youth Empowerment & Sports (DYES) had barred them from using the area and that Hammer throw would be shifted to the adjacent 200m track. Javelin and Discus would however continue in the main field.
“The same thing happened in Delhi too and we were not allowed to train there,” said gold-medallist Tajinderpal. “Athletes should be allowed to train. The feeling is different [in the restricted space] than compared to where we are supposed to throw.”
Bronze-medallist Inderjeet Singh said it was no way to treat an Asian Games champion like Tajinderpal and that the arrangement affected his own performance.
“This is not the way to treat athletes who have won laurels for the country,” said Inderjeet, a former Asian champion himself. “It’s because of that (makeshift arena) all my throws were going out of the arc. I was finding it difficult to grip. I’m requesting the authorities to help the athletes who are winning medals for the country.”
Elsewhere, K. Elakkiyadasan and Srabani Nanda clinched the men’s and women’s 100m titles respectively. In women’s 400m, Subha Venkatesan came up her personal best timing of 52.67s to secure gold. On the day, not a single meet record was rewritten.
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