AAAA has made a good start

THE inaugural Asian Grand Prix circuit had its second stop at Bangkok after its start at Hyderabad and wound up at Manila in the last week of May. To the limited extent of providing more exposure to some less fortunate athletes in the continent, the Grand Prix series proved a success. Also to note was the prize money being offered, especially the top prize of $2000. Such an amount for athletes who are yet to get into the top bracket, even at the Asian level, looked attractive enough.

Filipino Eduardo Buenavista (No. 066) paces ahead of T. A. Sivananda of India to win the men's 3000m event at Manila.-AP

Yet, the feeling remained that in order to lure more top-level athletes into the circuit, the Asian Amateur Athletics Association (AAAA) and the staging units will have to pitch in with more incentives in the future. The talk of fielding the top six Asian athletes in each of the 15 events at the three venues remained just that in a majority of the events. A few top athletes did participate, but overall the fields were rather thin in terms of quality athletes and even numbers in certain cases.

The late announcement of the circuit was one of the reasons for the lukewarm response, not to speak of the AAAA's inability to have any kind of control over top athletes of the continent. As one official put it, even some of the National federations have little control over their top athletes.

The AAAA has made a good start, though the field could have been a lot better. Local additions apart, there were no major inclusions in the line-ups for the two legs after Hyderabad. Just as the Indians did well at home to reap the rewards, the Thais and the Filipinos cashed in when the circuit moved into their lands.

A resume of the second and third legs:

BANGKOK: The wet conditions, following heavy rains just before the programme started, made it difficult for the athletes as the circuit moved into the Thai capital.

India's Jagdish Bishnoi, who took the bronze in the men's javelin at Hyderabad, improved on his performance to bag the silver at Bangkok.-K. RAMESHBABU

Despite the conditions, the brother-sister combine from India, K. M. Binu and K. M. Beenamol, made it a memorable leg for themselves as they scored emphatic victories in the 800m and 400m respectively. Beenamol's, in particular, was an outstanding effort as she upset the Asian and Asian Games champion, K. V. Damayanthi Darsha in the one-lapper, the Indian girl's first victory over the redoutable Sri Lankan.

For much of the race, Darsha led. But Beenamol, a strong finisher on the straight, a trait which she had shown in ample measure in Hyderabad, proved her strength over the last 45 metres. It was a close finish all right, with Beenamol clocking 51.97s and Darsha 52.20. The Indian was not too happy with her timing, having clocked marginally better at Hyderabad, but the victory over Darsha should spur her on in this important season when the two should clash again.

Binu also should cherish his victory for long. For, he won a tactical battle from two of the acknowledged Koreans, the Asian 1500m champion and 800m silver winner, Kim Soon Hyung and the bronze winner in the two-lapper at the Asian championships last time, Lee Jae Hoon. This was a slow race even by Indian standards, but what was important was that the Kerala youngster was able to assert himself in a more experienced field.

Also notable was the 100m triumph by Saraswati Saha (nee Dey) over Darsha, 11.66 to 11.88. Saraswati, a surprise silver winner at the last Asian championships in Jakarta, has had a mixed bag last season at home, even though she topped the ranking charts, but this year she seems to have hit top form straighaway. Not too much should be read into Darsha's defeat, though. The Sri Lankan was obviously running the 100 to improve her speed for the more important 400m and 200m which she should be concentrating on in the continental meets this season.

Sri Lanka's Damayanthi Darsha breaks away from Turkmenistan's Alyona Petrova in the women's 400m at Manila. Damayanthi took the gold, while India's Beenamol beat Petrova for the silver.-AP

As at Hyderabad, the Indian shot putters swept the medals, though this time there were only below-par performances with the top man in Asia last year and this season, Bahadur Singh, settling for the silver behind Navpreet Singh. The weather was blamed for the not-so-hot feats by the throwers, with Navpreet winning at 18.92 and Bahadur (18.85) and Kuldeep Mann (18.28) filling up the rest of the places on the podium. The top Chinese, Wang Zhiyong, third in last season's rankings, behind Bahadur and Shakti Singh, could manage only 18.16. Qatari Saad Bilal Mubarak, former Asian champion, continued to stay away, reportedly because of an injury.

Among the other Indian throwers, Jagdish Bishnoi and Fazal Ansari had a silver-bronze finish in the javelin event, behind Uzbk Sergey Voynov but their marks were nothing much to talk about. Voynov had an 81.25 for the gold, the best in the series as it turned out. The inability of the Chinese, Li Rongxiang and Zhang Lianbiao to touch their wonted form was as perplexing as the routine performances by the Indians.

By their sheer consistency, long jumper Anju Markose and discus thrower Neelam J. Singh, have given India something to talk about for the rest of the season. Anju settled for the silver once again behind Kazak Yelena Kascheyeva, but her 6.53 was yet another indication that she was right on track to extend her form from the previous season.

Neelam, though she also finished with the silver, behind Chinese Song Aimin, was able to maintain her performance in the 57-metre region. The same could not be said of the other Indian contender, Harwant Kaur. The silver winner at Hyderabad, with a 60-plus throw, could manage only a best of 55.21 this time and finished fourth.

MANILA: The last leg saw reversals for India. Yet, its supremacy in shot put was maintained. Shakti Singh, the top Indian, who pulled out from the Hyderabad meet at the last moment, continued to be absent. But Bahadur, regaining his form with another 19-plus, Navpreet and Jaiveer, made it a 1-2-3 sweep for India. Of course, these Grand Prix meets were no contests involving nations as such. Yet, countries like India will continue to put much importance to medal hauls in such meets.

India's Saraswati Saha was unstoppable in the women's 100m in the last two legs.-RAJEEV BHATT

Binu lost a fast race in the 800 metres in which Filipino John Lozada made the charge from the backstraight. Binu might have planned to cash in on a fast finish, but the overall speed proved too much for the Indian as he finished sixth in 1:50.68. Korean Lee Jae Hoon won in 1:47.06, the best timing in the three-meet circuit, followed by Lozada in a National mark of 1:47.77. Kim Soon Hyung was third.

Beenamol was not at her best on the day of the meet and not surprisingly settled for the silver behind Darsha, though the way she made up on the straight, the Indian record holder just might have started thinking why she had seemingly given up even before the 400 metres had started rolling. The timings were ordinary, with Darsha clocking 52.98 and Beenamol 53.28.

Saraswati Saha repeated her Bangkok effort by winning the 100m dash, with a better timing of 11.52. Darsha, once she realised that she was not going to be there in contention for the top slot, gave up and came home seventh at near jogging pace in 18.44s.

Neelam J. Singh maintained her performance levels, though she ended up with the bronze this time, at 57.22, with Harwant once again disappointing by finishing fourth at 56.28.

Anju Markose could not improve upon her silver-streak, as she touched 6.45 at the long jump pit, with Kashcheyeva once again proving a cut above the rest.

Filipino Eduardo Buenavista, second to Indian T. A. Sivananda, at both Hyderabad and Bangkok, triumphed this time in the 3000 metres with a national mark of 8:17.14 to boot. Sivananda was well behind in 8:22.14. Of all the events in the three-leg Grand Prix circuit, the men's distance events (3000m and 5000m) were the poorest in terms of top-level participation. The top 30 from the previous year's 5000m ranking list, dominated by the Japanese, were not there. Perhaps the top 50 or more since a final list is yet to be published. Sivananda's victories have to be viewed in this context.

Among those who kept up the sequence of victories through the three legs was Kuwaiti Fawzy Dahesh Al-Shammari.

The 23-year-old Kuwaiti had the measure of the Asian Games champion, Sugath Tillakeratne of Sri Lanka, in all the three meets. In fact Tillakeratne finished third behind countryman Rohan Pradeep Kumara in Manila.

THE RESULTS: BANGKOK

Men: 100m: 1. Sutichat Suwornprateep (Tha) 10.62, 2. Reanchai Sriharwong (Tha) 10.70, 3. Clifford Joshua (Ind) 10.77, 4. Anand Menezes (Ind) 10.79, 5. Hamood Abdullah Said Al Daihami (Omn) 10.81, 6. Denis Kondratyev (Kaz) 10.88.

400m: 1. Fawzy Dahesh Al-Shammari (Kuw) 45.73, 2. Sugath Tillakeratne (Sri) 45.95, 3. Rohan Pradeep Kumara (Sri) 46.24, 4. P. Ramachandran (Ind) 46.58, 5. Bhupinder Singh (Ind) 46.85, 6. Mohd Zaiful Bin Zainal (Mas) 47.39.

800m: 1. K. M. Binu (Ind) 1:50.10, 2. Kim Soon Hyung (Kor) 1:50.32, 3. Lee Jae Hoon (Kor) 1:50.44, 4. Mikhail Kolaganov (Kaz) 1: 50.51, 5. Redouane Ifane Joddouh (Syr) 1:51.31, 6. K. J. Manojlal (Ind) 1:53.99.

5000m: 1. T. A. Sivananda (Ind) 14:39.65, 2. Eduardo Buenavista (Phi) 14:40.77, 3. Jirasak Sutichat (Tha) 15:16.38, 4. Boonyu Kawratanakajorn (Tha) 16:41.57.

400m hurdles: 1. Badar Aman Al Fulazi (Kuw) 49.53, 2. Chen Tien Wen (Tpe) 49.94, 3. Yevgeniy Meleshenko (Kaz) 50.35, 4. Apisit Kuttiyawan (Tha) 51.95, 5. Jirachai Linglom (Tha) 53.16, 6. Hani Murhej (Syr) 53.26.

High jump: 1. Lee Jin-Taek (Kor) 2.22, 2. Zhou Zhongge (Chn) 2.20, 3. Bae Kyungho (Kor) 2.18, 4. Wang Zhouzhou (Chn) 2.11, 5. Loo Kum Zee (Mas) 2.11, 6. Arosha Bangana Pigeira (Sri) 2.06.

Triple jump: 1. Salem Mouled Al Ahmadi (KSA) 16.92, 2. Nattapon Namkhana (Tha) 16.66, 3. Sergey Arzamasov (Kaz) 16.04, 4. Evgeniy Petin (Uzb) 15.80, 5. Kitsak Sukon (Tha) 15.25, 6. Supawar Klunjai (Tha) 15.24.

Shot put: 1. Navpreet Singh (Ind) 18.92, 2. Bahadur Singh (Ind) 18.85, 3. Kuldeep Mann (Ind) 18.28, 4. Wang Zhiyong (Chn) 18.16, 5. Jaiveer Singh (Ind) 17.76, 6. Chatchawal Polyemg (Tha) 16.96.

Javelin: 1. Sergey Voynov (Uzb) 81.25, 2. Jagdish Bishnoi (Ind) 75.77, 3. Fazal Ansari (Ind) 72.82, 4. Zahid Hussain (Pak) 72.29, 5. Lee Rongxiang (Chn) 69.91, 6. Zhang Lianbiao (Chn) 64.68.

Women: 100m: 1. Saraswati Saha (Ind) 11.66, 2. K. V. Damayanthi Darsha (Sri) 11.81, 3. Poonam Tomar (Ind) 11.87, 4. Viktoria Kovyereva (Kaz) 11.91, 5. Orrnut Klomdee (Tha) 11.97, 6. Kavita Pandya (Ind) 12.08.

400m: 1. K. M. Beenamol (Ind) 51.97, 2. K. V. Damayanthi Darsha (Sri) 52.20, 3. Alyona Petrova (Tkm) 53.66, 4. Svetlana Bodritskaya (Kaz) 53.85, 5. Jincy Philip (Ind) 54.12, 6. Vassanee Vinatho (Tha) 56.28.

800m: 1. Wang Yuanping (Chn) 2:04.81, 2. Madhuri A. Singh (Ind) 2:05.05, 3. Tatyana Borisova (Kgz) 2:05.14, 4. Geeta Manral (Ind) 2:08.22, 5. P. Udaya Laxmi (Ind) 2:13.02.

100m hurdles: 1. Su Yiping (Chn) 13.38, 2. Trecia Roberts (Tha) 13.47, 3. Sriyani Kulawansa (Sri) 13.50, 4. Moh Siew Wei (Mas) 13.86, 5. Kumiko Ikeda (Jpn) 14.06, 6. Anuradha Biswal (Ind) 14.20.

Long Jump:1. Yelena Kashcheyeva (Kaz) 6.63, 2. Anju B. George (Ind) 6.53, 3. Kumiko Ikeda (Jpn) 6.34, 4. Wachari Rithiach (Tha) 6.22, 5. Warunee Kittibirun (Tha) 6.09, 6. Kitina Muangun (Tha) 5.83.

Discus: 1. Song Aimin (Chn) 58.04, 2. Neelam J. Singh (Ind) 57.23, 3. Ma Shuli (Chn) 56.80, 4. Harwant Kaur (Ind) 55.21, 5. Miyoko Naruse (Jpn) 49.90, 6. Juthaporn Krasaeyan (Tha) 43.97.

THE RESULTS: MANILA

Men: 100m: 1. Sittichai Suwonprateep (Tha) 10.28w, Reanchai Sriharwong (Tha) 10.47w, 3. Denis Kondratyev (Kaz) 10.51w, 4.Clifford Joshua (Ind) 10.54w, 5. Hamoud Abdullah Al-Dalhami (Omn) 10.55w, 6. Mohamed Abdullah Al-Houti (Omn)10.58w.

400m: 1. Fawzy Dahesh Al-Shammari (Kuw) 45.20, 2. Rohan Pradeep Kumara (Sri) 46.61, 3. Sugath Tillakeratne (Sri) 46.81, 4. P. Ramachandran (Ind) 47.26, 5. Mohd Zaiful Zainal Abidin (Mas) 47.64, 6. K. J. Manojlal (Ind) 48.06.

800m: 1. Lee Jae Hoon (Kor) 1:47.06, 2. John Lozada (Phi) 1:47.77, 3. Kim Soon Hyung (KOR) 1:48.19, 4. Mikhail Kolganov (Kaz) 1:48.38, 5. Redouane Ifane Jaddouh (Syr) 1:48.70, 6. K. M. Binu (Ind) 1:50.68.

3000m: 1. Eduardo Buenavista (Phi) 8:17.14, 2. T. A. Shivananda (Ind) 8:22.14, 3. Rene Herrera (Phi) 8:37.54, 4. Crisanto Canillo (Phi) 8:54.42, 5. Noel Bautista (Phi) 9:22.17, 6. Rio De La Cruz (Phi) 9:39.39.

400m hurdles: 1. Bader Aman Al Fulazi (Kuw) 49.96, 2. Yevgeniy Meleshenko (Kaz) 50.34, 3. Domingo Manata (Phi) 53.18, Chen Tien-Wen (Tpe) DNF.

High jump: 1. Lee Jin-Taek (Kor) 2.20, 2. Wang Zhouzhou (Chn) 2.18, 3. Bae Kyung-Ho (Kor) 2.18, 3. Zhou Zhongge (Chn) 2.11, 4. Loo Kum Zee (Mas) 2.08, 5.Sean Guevara (Phi) 2.05, 6. Arosha Rangana Pigeira (Sri) 2.02.

Triple jump: 1. Salem Mouled Al-Ahmadi (KSA) 16.74, 2. Nattaporn Namkanha (Tha) 16.13, 3. Sergey Arzamasov (Kaz) 16.12, 4. Yevgeniy Petin (Uzb) 15.24w, 5. Raphie Pilaspilas (Phi) 14.38, 6. Roland Canta (Phi) 14.17.

Shot put: 1. Bahadur Singh (Ind) 19.30, 2. Navpreet Singh (Ind) 18.62, 3. Jaiveer Singh (Ind) 17.99, 4. Wang Zhiyong (Chn) 17.80, 5. Kuldeep Singh Mann (Ind) 15.63.

Javelin: 1. Li Rongxiang (Chn) 78.27, 2. Sergey Voynov (Uzb) 76.94, 3. Mohd Fazal Ansari (Ind) 72.31, 4. Jagdish Bishnoi (Ind) 71.93, 5. Zahid Mahmood Hussain (Pak) 71.25, 6. Zhang Lianbiao (Chn) 67.41.

Women: 100m: 1. Saraswati Saha (Ind) 11.52, 2. Oranut Klomdee (Tha) 11.58, 3. Lerma Bulauitan-Gabito (Phi) 11.61, 4. Poonam Tomar (Ind) 11.62, 5. Viktoriya Koviyreva (Kaz) 11.67, 6. Kavita Pandya (Ind) 11.97.

400m: 1. K. V. Damayanthi Darsha (Sri) 52.98, 2. K. M. Beenamol (Ind) 53.28, 3. Alyona Petrova (Tkm) 53.74, 4. Svetlana Bodritskaya (Kaz) 54.41, 5. Jincy Philip (Ind) 54.58, 6. P. Udaya Laxmi (Ind) 56.36.

800m: 1. Wang Yuanping (Chn) 2:09.27, 2. Madhuri A. Singh (Ind) 2:09.42, 3. Tatyana Borisova (Kgz) 2:09.60, 4. Geeta Manral (Ind) 2:11.65, 5. Ann Barcenas (Phi) 2:26.45.

100m hurdles:: 1. Su Yiping (Chn) 12.91, 2. Trecia Roberts (Tha) 13.10, 3. Sriyani Kulawansa (Sri) 13.26, 4. Moh Siew Wei (Mas) 13.39, 5. Anuradha Biswal (Ind) 13.89, 6. Kumiko Ikeda (Jpn) 13.98.

Long jump: 1. Yelena Kashcheyeva (Kaz) 6.50, 2. Anju B. George (Ind) 6.45, 3. Maristella Torres (Phi) 6.38w, 4. Lerma Bulauitan-Gabito (Phi) 6.38, 5. Kumiko Ikeda (Jpn) 6.24.

Discus: 1. Ma Shuli (Chn) 60.70, 2. Song Aimin (Chn) 59.13, 3. Neelam J. Singh (Ind) 57.22, 4. Harwant Kaur (Ind) 56.28, 5. Miyoko Naruse (Jpn) 48.43, 6. Rosely Hamero (Phi) 41.41.