Anju, Gurpreet adjudged best

Published : Dec 15, 2001 00:00 IST


THE off-season syndrome was expected to affect the performance of the athletes in a big way in the National Games. As it turned out, it did in most of the track events, but there was a different story in the field events, prompting the athletics guru, Mr. J. S. Saini, to say, "many of our theories are being exploded." Maybe, November-end is still not our off-season.

That all the three National records, all of them in the women's section, that came about at Ludhiana were in the field events should be a pointer as well. Of course, the track records in the Indian context, especially in the men's section, have reached closer to potential in recent years and as such it has become that much tougher to better them.

Records apart, what was heartening was the attendance. Practically everyone who mattered in Indian athletics, barring a few - quarter-miler Paramjeet Singh and discus thrower Anil Kumar were prominent among the absentees - made it a point to be there. Perhaps the incentives announced by the States had much to do with their enthusiasm. It did not matter anyway. What mattered was competition and there was no dearth of it.

Without any competition, Anju B. George (nee Markose) soared to a new National record in triple jump. In fact, she achieved that on her opening jump, was just a centimetre less on her second and passed the rest. Her 13.61m was a superb effort for someone coming back into competitive triple-jumping after a gap of two years. This one bettered her own National record set at Bangalore in 1999 by a good margin, by 34 centimetres to be precise. That she could achieve it after taking off on her wrong leg, should give ample proof of her talent and determination. She is preserving her right leg for the long jump.

Though Anju has been and continues to be one of our better prospects in the Asian Games context, it must be admitted here that the top Chinese as well as the Kazakhs are way ahead of her. In fact, the top nine in the Chinese National Games at Guangzhou, held around the same time as the Indian in Punjab, reached beyond Anju's mark; the top five bettered 14 metres.

It is on long jump that Anju's eyes are set. Rightly so, one should say. For, it is here that the Kerala girl, employed with the Chennai Customs, has world-class credentials and it is this event which she feels is her No. 1 choice and where her chances at the Asian level are brighter.

Without putting undue strain on her right ankle, worried as she was about the injury she had been nursing for some time, Anju reached a distance of 6.61 metres in long jump. It was her third best jump in a career which is yet to fully blossom, and Anju as well as husband and coach, Robert Bobby George, seemed to be satisfied with the efforts put in at Ludhiana. Eventually there was the 'best athlete' award to go with the gold medals and of course, the cash incentives that the Tamil Nadu government had announced. Two lakh rupees for two days' work is not bad after all!

The 'best athlete' award in the men's section went to Gurpreet Singh. He claimed it for his 110-metre hurdles effort of 14.10s, and he, like Anju, had two golds in the end, adding the intermediate hurdles to his pet event triumph. The 20-year-old Amritsar lad was also eligible for Rs. 2 lakhs from the Punjab Government.

Gurpreet's 14.10s turned out to be the third best by an Indian behind Gurbachan Singh Randhawa's 14.09s in the Tokyo Olympics and his own National record of 14.07s set at the Lucknow inter-State meet this season. Under the guidance of coach Rajinder Singh, who is essentially involved with the academics at the NIS, Patiala, Gurpreet is determined to shed the flaws in his technique and gear himself up for the 2002 Asian Games.

"The 400 hurdles is just to prepare myself for the 110", said Gurpreet, who is a product of the local system, having been groomed by coach Amarjeet Singh Kahlon at Ludhiana. Though he is yet to perfect the clearance of the intermediate hurdles, Gurpreet showed his capacity with a smooth finish on the straight for a 51.66 timing.

Like Anju and Gurpreet, Harwant Kaur was another athlete to bag a double. Knowing that she stood little chance at the Asian level in shot put, Harwant has gradually shifted her focus towards the discus. And she beat Neelam Jaswant Singh at Ludhiana. Neelam had looked quite solid through the season, but failed to respond after Harwant opened with a 55.28. The Punjab girl stretched it to 55.45 in the third round while Neelam's best of 55.09 came in the last round. Through the season Neelam had not thrown less than 55.13, her best being 59.41m. This was her first defeat of the season at home.

Harwant won the shot put gold with a modest 15.25m, upstaging Tamil Nadu's N. Latha who had won all the major domestic titles till then this season. Amandeep Kaur, staging a comeback, was third with 13.73.

Apart from Anju George, the National records were set by hammer thrower Hardeep Kaur and pole vaulter Karamjeet Kaur. It has become rather routine for records to be bettered in these events. Yet, Hardeep's 61.56 in hammer should merit mention if only for the fact that she could now be in contention for a medal at the Asian level. Barring the Chinese and two Japanese women, Aya Mazumi and Aya Suzuki, no one is in the 61-plus bracket at the continental level.

Karamjeet's 3.25m for the pole vault record, an eight-centimetre improvement over her National mark set in Lucknow, was a fine effort. But she has to go very far if she has to make a mark abroad. Needless to say, at home she is unchallenged and quite often enters the competition when others have finished. She came in at 3.00 metres in this meet and after scaling 3.20 in her third attempt, she cleared 3.25m in her first. Surprisingly, she did not ask for another height.

One notable feat came from Ajay Raj Singh as he beat Anil Kumar in the 200 metres to end the latter's two-year unbeaten streak. Anil was ill-prepared to run the longer dash after having won the shorter one, but he relented on being pressured by his team, the Services. The usual cadence was missing once Anil knew that he had a chase on hand. He tried his best but the Jalandhar lad, another trainee of Kahlon who is now under Rajinder Singh, did not give anything away at the finish. It was 21.20 for Ajay Raj and 21.29 for Anil.

Anil's 100m gold had come in 10.52s after he had set a meet record of 10.49 in the semifinals. Anil felt that running the final alone on one day was disadvantageous in the chilly conditions and everyone would have been better off had the semifinals and final been clubbed in a day's programme.

An upset of sorts was also posted by Aman Saini, the Himachal boy now graduating into the senior ranks, as he outkicked K. Shankar on the straight in the 10,000 metres. This was the first defeat for Shankar this season in National meets. The Udhagamandalam runner had bagged a double apiece at Lucknow and Chennai. He won the 5000m this time without much fuss but that is where his success ended.

K. M. Binu and P. S. Primesh renewed their two-lap rivalry and the former triumphed once again, as he had at the Chennai Open. If that performance was one of the best on Indian soil, this was just above ordinary, Binu clocking 1:48.69 and Primesh 1:49.25. P. J. Robin, who challenged both Binu and Primesh at Chennai, was beaten for the bronze by Tejkaran by a whisker.

Kerala's Geesh Kumar battled alone in achieving a personal best in pole vault, 4.90m, while Shakti Singh, into his first competition for the season, did extremely well in bagging the silver behind Bahadur Singh in shot put, 19.38 to 19.34, and the gold in discus. Bahadur, having sprained his abductor muscle while competing in shot put, missed out on the chance to test himself in discus. It was as a discus thrower that the Punjab man had come into the limelight in 1992 through the Asian junior championship.

In the women's section, K. M. Beenamol's 52.71s for the 400m, outclassing Jincy Philip, was a notable effort while Madhuri Gurnule's distance double gave immense pleasure to a humble man, coach Sanjay 'Bhau' Kane.

The 2:04.33 by C. Latha in the 800m was also a creditable effort and the Tamil Nadu girl rounded off a satisfying meet with an inspired anchor in the longer relay that left Beenamol and Kerala behind.

A meet that should at best have been held over four days was stretched into six to make sure of an extended spell of live television coverage. That ensured long spells of boredom instead. A last-minute revision of schedule only made matters worse with the third day having no track final at all.

The seven-hour delay as the decathletes waited for an old pole vault pit to arrive from Jalandhar, since they had 'rejected' the rock-hard new one that was available, was a scandalous technical bungling by the NGOC and the AAFI. Mercifully, the competition could be completed by 10-45 p.m. though it threatened at one stage to go beyond the midnight mark. This might well be some sort of a world record, even if it be a dubious one - a decathlon competition being halted for seven hours.

The results:

Men: 100m: 1. Anil Kumar (Ser) 10.52, Ajay Raj Singh (Pun) 10.62, Sanjay Ghosh (Ser) 10.69; 200m: 1. Ajay Raj Singh (Pun) 21.20, 2. Anil Kumar (Ser) 21.29, 3. Vikas Prasher (Pun) 21.75; 400m: 1. K. J. Manojlal (Ker) 47.05, 2. P. Ramachandran (Ker) 47.53, 3. Anil Kumar Rohil (Ser) 47.54; 800m: 1. K. M. Binu (Ker) 1:48.69, 2. P. S. Primesh (Ker) 1:49.25, 3. Tejkaran (M.P.) 1:49.89; 1,500m: 1. T. M. Sajeev (Ker) 3:51.40, 2. Kuldeep Kumar (U.P.) 3:51.57, 3. T. A. Shivananda (Kar) 3:54.05; 5,000m: 1. K. Shankar (T.N.) 14:24.06, N. Gojen Singh (Man) 14:24.55, Aman Saini (H.P.) 14:25.89; 10,000m: 1. Aman Saini (H.P.) 31:10.52, 2. K. Shankar (T.N.) 31:12.66, 3. Jagannath Lakade (Ser) 31:13.25; 3,000m steeplechase: 1. Arun D'Souza (Kar) 9:03.40, 2. Rajesh Kumar (Ser) 9:05.41, 3. Ranjan Kumar Jha (Ser) 9:07.35; 110m hurdles: 1. Gurpreet Singh (Pun) 14.10, 2. P. T. Yesudas (Kar) 14.51, 3. Jagjit Singh (Pun) 14.62; 400m hurdles: 1. Gurpreet Singh (Pun) 51.66, 2. Joseph Abraham (Ker) 52.46, Surinder Kumar (Pun) 53.00.

High jump: 1. Maria Lorans (Ser) 2.13, 2. Omveer Singh (Raj) 2.08, M. V. Nagendra Prasad (Kar) 2.08; pole vault: 1. Geesh Kumar (Ker) 4.90, 2. Ramdhari Singh (Ser) 4.70, 3. Sher Singh (Pun) 4.60; long jump: 1. Sanjay Kumar Rai (Ben) 7.74, 2. Santosh George (Ker) 7.43, 3. Amrit Pal Singh (Pun) 7.32; triple jump: 1. Pritpal Singh (Pun) 15.74, 2. Robin M. Verghese (Ker) 15.38, Gurmit Singh (Pun) 15.36.

Shot put: 1. Bahadur Singh (Pun) 19.38, 2. Shakti Singh (Har) 19.34, 3. Navpreet Singh (Pun) 18.15; discus: 1. Shakti Singh (Har) 54.52, 2. Sukhbir Singh (Pun) 52.25, 3. Jaiveer Singh (Raj) 51.15; hammer: 1. Pramod Kumar Tiwari (U.P.) 64.13, 2. Nirbhay Singh (Ser) 63.20, 3. Harpal Singh (Pun) 59.93; javelin: 1. Harvinder Singh (Pun) 72.46, 2. Jagdish Bishnoi (Pun) 71.73, 3. Sunil Kumar Goswami (Del) 69.10.

Decathlon: 1. Mandeep Kumar (Del) 6904, 2. Jora Singh (Del) 6850, 3. Dharampal Singh (Pun) 6799.

20,000m walk: 1. Gurdev Singh (Ser) 1:29:39, 2. Gurmit Singh (Pun) 1:29:49, 3. Sita Ram (Ser) 1:31:56.

4x100m relay: 1. Delhi (Paramjit Singh, Piyush Kumar, Dinesh Rawat, Sandeep Sarkaria) 40.99, 2. Punjab (Vikas Prasher, Lakhbir, Jaspreet, Ajay Raj) 41.29, 3. Tamil Nadu (Alex Anthony Raj, Rajesh Pran Mathias, B. Rajesh, H. Jayachandran) 41.37; 4x400m relay: 1. Kerala (P. Ramachandran, K. M. Binu, P. S. Primesh, K. J. Manojlal) 3:09.51, 2. Services (Satbir, B. Vijay, T. G. Ajesh, Anil Rohil) 3:11.37, 3. Punjab (Baljit, Gurjinder, Jaswinder, Satinderjit) 3:12.46.

Team championship: 1. Punjab 68, 2. Services 45, 3. Kerala 34.

Women: 100m: 1. Kavita Pandya (Mah) 11.89, 2. V. Jayalakshmi (T.N.) 11.92, 3. V. Pandeeswari (T.N.) 12.11; 200m: 1. Kavita Pandya (Mah), 2. V. Pandeeswari (T.N.) 24.49, 3. V. Jayalakshmi (T.N.) 24.53; 400m: 1. K. M. Beenamol (Ker) 52.71, 2. Jincy Philip (Ker) 53.42, 3. Rajwinder Kaur (Pun) 53.50; 800m: 1. C. Latha (T.N.) 2:04.33, 2. Madhuri A. Singh (Pun) 2:04.42, Sunita Kumari (Del) 2:06.34; 1500m: 1. Sunita Kumari (Del) 4:34.31, 2. Madhuri A. Singh (Pun) 4:34.42, 3. Swati Gurnule (Mah) 4:35.78; 5000m: 1. Madhuri Gurnule (Mah) 16:51.90, 2. Pushpa Devi (Del) 17:06.58, 3. L. Manjula (Kar) 17:39.47; 10,000m: 1. Madhuri Gurnule (Mah) 34:50.89, 2. Pushpa Devi (Del) 35:33.64, 3.Beant Kaur (Pun) 36:22.56; 100m hurdles: 1. Anuradha Biswal (Ori) 13.81, 2. Pramila Ganapathy (Kar) 14.13, 3. Soma Biswas (Ben) 14.19; 400m hurdles: 1. P. Udaya Laxmi (A.P.) 57.75, 2. Sapinder Kaur (Pun) 58.91, 3. V. Jayalakshmi (T.N.) 59.07.

High jump: Bobby Aloysius (Ker) 1.82, 2. Sahana Kumari (Kar) 1.76, 3. M. Sangeetha (T.N.) 1.70; pole vault: 1. Karamjeet Kaur 3.25 (National record, old 3.17), 2. V. S. Surekha (T.N.) 2.70, 3. Chetna Solanki (Guj) 2.60; long jump: 1. Anju B. George (T.N.) 6.61, 2. Jetty C. Joseph (Ker) 6.21, 3. Pramila Ganapathy (Kar) 6.14; triple jump: 1. Anju B. George (T.N.) 13.61 (National record, old 13.27), 2. M. Krishnapriya (T.N.) 13.04, 3. Bobby Aloysius (Ker) 12.98.

Shot put: 1. Harwant Kaur (Pun) 15.25, 2. N. Latha (T.N.) 15.05, 3. Amandeep Kaur (Chd) 13.73; discus: 1. Harwant Kaur (Pun) 55.45, 2. Neelam J. Singh (Har) 55.09, 3. Sugan Kumari Yadav (Har) 51.31; hammer: 1. Hardeep Kaur (Pun) 61.56 (National record, old 58.95), 2. Rajinder Kaur (Pun) 52.65, 3. Phoolpati Jhakkar (Har) 51.55; javelin: 1. Suman Devi (U.P.) 48.59, 2. N. M. Hemalatha (Kar) 46.04, 3. Manisha Mondal (Ben) 44.89.

Heptathlon: 1. Soma Biswas (Ben) 5445, 2. J. J. Shobha (A.P.) 5249, 3. P. Udaya Laxmi (A.P.) 5188.

4x100m relay: 1. Tamil Nadu (K. N. Priya, V. Pandeeswari, M. K. Syamanthakam, V.Jayalakshmi) 46.78, 2. Punjab (Mandeep Kaur Sr., Navjot Kaur, Dapinder Kaur, Manjit Kaur) 47.08, 3. Kerala (Jincy Philip, Sindhu P. V., Anju Alex, K. M. Beenamol) 47.46; 4x400m relay: 1. Tamil Nadu (V. Jayalakshmi, Priya Rose, N. Tharani, C. Latha) 3:37.69, 2. Kerala (R. Sukumari, Jincy Philip, Anisha K. Vijayan, K. M. Beenamol) 3:37.95, 3. Punjab (Kamaljeet Kaur, Sapinder Kaur, Sagardeep Kaur, Rajwinder Kaur) 3:39.70.

20,000m walk: 1. Ravina Antil (Har) 1:49:15, 2. L. Deepmala Devi (Man) 1:50:35, 3. Jasmin Kaur 1:51:45.

Team championship: 1. Tamil Nadu 51, 2. Punjab 47, 3. Kerala 24.

Overall championship: 1. Punjab 117, 2. Tamil Nadu 65, 3. Kerala 63.

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