A memorable event

Sergey Voynov once again helped himself with the javelin gold after winning the event in the previous two legs. — Pic. K. RAMESH BABU-

THE absence of a sizeable crowd at the Thammasat University Sports Centre was quite glaring so much so that it brought up an unnecessary discussion about the popularity of the Asian Grand Prix athletics series.

THE absence of a sizeable crowd at the Thammasat University Sports Centre was quite glaring so much so that it brought up an unnecessary discussion about the popularity of the Asian Grand Prix athletics series. Yet, what still made the third leg (at Bangkok) of the series quite memorable was the sequence of surprising results.

Not in the men's 100m in which Gennadiy Chernovol reigned supreme once again and earned his much-deserved hat-trick, winning the race in 10.42s ahead of his Thai rivals, Sittichai Suwornprateep and Seksan Wongsala. Chernovol, fourth in the Busan Asian Games, who had won both the earlier legs in Hyderabad and Colombo in 10.42s and 10.60s, respectively, clearly enjoyed his moment under the sun as he sped away from the rest of the pack and finished an easy winner in the end.

But in the 400m, Rohan Pradeep Kumara's winning streak was finally brought to an end by team-mate Sugath Tilakeratne, who seemed to have the memories of his 1998 Asian Games triumph at the same venue rekindled in good measure. Sugath as he won over Rohan for the first time in the series clocked 46.66s after taking control of the race midway through. It was another 1-2-3 for Sri Lanka, anyway, as Prasanna Amarasekera (46.92s) collected the bronze behind Rohan (46.77s).

The Thais too had something to cheer as 22-year-old Narongdech Janjai also completed a third win from as many starts in the 110m hurdles. The Lampang resident seemed to be in trouble initially before he found his rhythm past the halfway mark and surged ahead of compatriot Suphan Wongsriphuek and Malayasia's Mohammed Faiz Mohammed towards the end. The Thai as he came past the tape was clocked 14.24s, while Wongsriphuek and Mohammed were timed 14.29s and 14.35s, respectively.

Likewise, it was a third straight gold for Mohammed Al-Salhi in the 800m after the Saudi Arabian kept a close watch on a fighting P. S. Primesh from India. The other Saudi Arabian winner over the last two legs, Mohammed Al-Khuwaildi also remained unbeaten as he took the long jump gold ahead of team-mate Ahmed Al-Dossary and Maha Singh of India.

Anil Kumar, also of India, had an improved performance over the Colombo leg but his 59.44m effort was not good enough to stop the winning spree of Iranian Abbas Samimi in the discus throw. The same also held true in the javelin wherein Uzbekistan's Sergey Voynov once again helped himself to the gold (with a throw of 77.14m) ahead of Jagdish Bishnoi and Harminder Singh, both of India.

The real surprise of the afternoon came in the women's 100m as Guzel Khubbieva of Uzbekistan finally turned successful in pushing the overwhelming favourite Susantika Jayasinghe to the second spot. The Uzbek sprinter who had been the bridesmaid both at Hyderabad and Colombo made good of a poor start by the Sri Lankan and was timed 11.30s as she breasted the tape ahead of Jayasinghe (11.31s). Thailand's Oranuch Klomdee was once again third in 11.52s.

"I made a poor start. Though I lost, I am happy with my timing. I hope things will turn around in Manila, where I hope to regain my top form and win the gold," said Jayasinghe, 27, after the race. Guzel, incidentally, was only fourth in the Busan Asian Games where Jayasinghe had won the 100m gold effortlessly before pulling out of the 200m due to an injury.

Trecia Roberts, 32, of Thai-American parentage, was, however, not to be stopped in the 100m hurdles as she won a third gold in the series brushing off Sri Lankan Sriyani Kulawansa's stiff challenge. The Thai, whose personal best is 12.73s, was clocked 13.23s as she overcame Sriyani for a third consecutive time. "I'm happy to win again, this time on home soil. I would like to run in 12s and look forward to the coming Asian championship. I hope to qualify for the Athens Olympics, where I want to make the final."

It was happy tidings once again for Damayanthi Darsha, who like Sugath, had won the 400m title in the 1998 Asian Games. It was a two-horse race once again, but pulling away from Svetlana Bodritskaya midway through the race, Damayanthi had little difficulty in leaving behind her Kazakh rival for a second time in-a-row.

Tatyana Roslanova's success in the 800m was halted by Uzbekistan's Zamira Amirova near the finish. However, the other two events on the card saw Du Xianhui (Singapore) and Yelena Kascheyeva (Kazakhstan) showing their supremacy in the shot put and long jump, respectively. The Chinese-born Singapore shot putter once again touched 18.00m as she took her third straight title while Kascheyeva won after a battle royal with Philippine's Lerma Elmira Gabito. It indeed was a close shave for Kascheyeva.

The results:

Men: 100 m :1. Gennadiy Chernovol (Kaz), 10.42s, 2. Sittichai Suwornprateep (Tha), 10.65s 3. Seksan Wongsala (Tha), 10.68s. 400m: 1. Sugath Tilakeratne (SL), 46.66s, 2. Rohan Pradeep Kumara (SL), 46.77s, 3. Prasanna Amarasekara (SL), 46.92s. 800m: 1. Mohammed Al-Salhi (KSA), 1:48.45, 2. P. S. Primesh (Ind), 1:48.95, 3. P. W. G. M. Pushpakumara (SL), 1:49.30. 110m hurdles: 1. Narongdech Janjai (Tha), 14.24s, 2. Suphan Wongsriphuek (Tha), 14.29s, 3. Mohammed Faiz Mohammed (Mas), 14.35s. Long jump: 1. Mohammed Al-Khuwaildi (KSA), 7.86m, 2. Ahmed Al-Dossary (KSA), 7.65m, 3. Maha Singh (Ind), 7.52m. Discus: 1. Abbas Samimi (Irn), 62.60m, 2. Anil Kumar (Ind), 59.44m, 3. Sultan Al-Dawodi (KSA), 54.29m. Javelin: 1. Sergey Voynov (Uzb), 77.14m, 2. Jagdish Bishnoi (Ind), 70.66m, 3. Harminder Singh (Ind), 67.19m. 4 x 100m relay: 1. Thailand `A', 39.95s, 2. Thailand `B' 41.83s.

Women: 100m : 1. Guzel Khubbieva (Uzb), 11.30s, 2. Susanthika Jayasinghe (SL), 11.31s, 3. Oranuch Klomdee (Tha), 11.52s. 400m: 1. Damayanthi Darsha (SL), 52.20s, 2. Svetlana Bodritskaya (Kaz), 52.86s, 3. Saowalee Keawchuay (Tha), 54.80s. 800m: 1. Zamira Amirova (Uzb), 2:03.23, 2. Tatyana Roslanova (Kaz), 2:03.50, 3. Tatyana Borisova (Kgz), 2:04.51. 100m hurdles: 1. Trecia Roberts (Tha), 13.23s, 2. Sriyani Kulawansa (SL), 13.51s, 3. Promsri Pathaporn (Tha), 14.34s. Long jump: 1. Yelena Kashcheyeva (Kaz), 6.48m, 2. Lerma Elmira Gabito (Phi), 6.39m, 3. Wacharee Rittiwat (Tha), 6.34m. Shot put: 1. Du Xianhui (Sin), 18.02m, 2. Zhang Guirong (Sin), 17.99m, 3. Jonata Ulyeva (Kaz), 16.82m. 4 x 100m relay: 1. Thailand `A' 44.40s, 2. Thailand `B' 47.51s, 3. India, 47.51s.