Athletes rise to the occasion


Babubhai Panocha (men’s 20,000m walk) and Sudha Singh (women’s 3000m steeplechase) accounted for the two National records at the four-day meet in Jamshedpur. S. Sabanayakan reports.

The 47th Open National Athletics Championship, held at the sprawling J. R. D. Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur, showcased some of India’s best talent. Coming at the fag end of the season, the most prestigious meet of the AFI (Athletics Federation of India) suffered in terms of performance, especially in the throw events, but overall it proved competitive thanks to the commitment of the athletes.

The championship was conducted by the Jharkhand Athletics Association in a slipshod manner. Originally scheduled to be held in the state capital, the meet was shifted to Jamshedpur, the sporting capital of Jharkhand, owing to non-availability of a synthetic track in Ranchi. The organisers also decided to advance the meet by a day. This meant that the electronic equipment for the championship arrived a day late, forcing the organisers to stage the opening day’s events without wind gauge and photo finish camera among other things.

The organisers also blundered in scheduling the Opening Ceremony, attended by the Sports Minister, Bandhu Tirkey, for the evening which forced some of the events to be completed in near darkness!

Even on the second day, some of the events were conducted in darkness, which clearly pointed to the organisers’ lack of experience in scheduling such a programme. The AFI officials deputed for the meet too should be blamed for this, as they failed to foresee these problems.

The equipment used at the meet too left a lot to be desired. The safety cage netting at the hammer throw pit had gaping holes, and it was really fortunate that nobody got hurt. The organisers, however, went ahead even though on one occasion the hammer slipped out of a contestant’s hands, went through the net and landed outside, barely missing a local competitor standing nearby! It was only after severe criticism in the media that the organisers addressed the problem the following day.

Two National marks were lowered at the four-day meet (October 23-26). In the men’s 20,000m walk, Babubhai Panocha of Services clocked 1:23.40s to improve upon his own record of 1:25.09s set at the Inter-State meet in Bhopal this year. In doing so, Panocha also achieved the qualifying standard (1:24.30s) for the Beijing Olympic Games. Thus the Services’ cross country runner-turned-walker became the fourth Indian to make the mark for Beijing, the others being Anju George (women’s long jump), Renjith Maheswary (men’s triple jump) and Vikas Gowda (men’s discus).

In the women’s 3000m steeplechase, Sudha Singh timed 10:18.76s to win her third major crown this year after the National Games (Guwahati) and Federation Cup (Kolkata). In the process she also erased the National record.

Apart from the two National marks, eight meet records were also established — four each in the men’s and women’s sections. Preeja Sreedharan’s distance double in record times was one of the highlights of the championship.

Sivadasan Nair Arunjith’s 200m run was the most celebrated among the meet records. He registered 20.92s to better Anand Menezes’ mark (21.06s) set in Delhi five years ago.

Creditable show... Babubhai Panocha-S. PATRONOBISH

Creditable show...

In high jump, Railways’ Benedict Starli (men) and Sahana Kumari (women) set meet records. Starli, while winning the men’s high jump gold, forced the National and meet record holder Hari Shankar Roy to eat humble pie. Sahana, on the other hand, lived up to her billing as the favourite.

Amarjeet Singh, with a meet record in the men’s triple jump, dented the reputation of the celebrated Renjith Maheswary, who came second. The lanky Amarjeet thus beat Maheswary for the second time this year, his earlier victory coming at the Inter-State meet in Bhopal. In between Maheswary beat Amarjeet at the Inter-Railway meet.

Chatholi Hamza of Services came tantalisingly close to qualifying for the Beijing Olympics. The metric miler, a bronze medal winner at the World Military Games in Hyderabad recently with a time of 3:42.84s, clocked a hand-timed 3:39.9s.

This, besides being his career-best time, also eclipsed one of the long standing meet records — 3:40.06s by Bahadur Prasad in Chennai in 1994. That all the podium finishers posted their personal-best times meant that the race was hotly contested.

The Railways accounted for the last meet record, with its 4x100m relay quartet clocking 45.24s to improve upon the AFI National team’s time of 45.25s set in Kolkata in 1998.

The meet also witnessed some fine individual performances such as Sinimole Paulose’s double (800m and 1500m), Satti Geetha’s brilliant victories in the 200m and 400m, Sharda Narayana’s stunning 100m win over favourite Poonam Tomar, J. J. Sobha’s victory in heptathlon from a field that included former record holders G. G. Pramila and Soma Biswas, and the triumph of Poonam Bojanna and P. Muthuswamy in the women’s 100m hurdles and men’s high hurdles respectively.

The Railways athletes dominated the meet with a haul of 75 medals (29 gold, 25 silver and 21 bronze). Services came a distant second with 16 medals (5-6-5), while Police was third with 11 (3-3-5).


Men — 100m: 1. Sameer Mon (Ser) 10.53s, 2. Jagdish Basak (PSCB) 10.57, 3. Vilas Neelgund (Rlys) 10.59. 200m: 1. S. Arunjith (Rlys) 20.92s (NMR; Old: 21.06s by Anand Menezes, 2002), 2. P. Muthuswami (Rlys) 21.15, 3. B. G. Nagaraj (Rlys) 21.35. 400m: 1. Bibin Mathew (Rlys) 47.55s, 2. S. K. Mortaja (Ser) 47.68, 3. Sriniwas Rao (Rlys) 47.94. 800m: 1. Sajeesh Joseph (Rlys) 1:47.42s, 2. Rajeev R (Rlys) 1:47.54, 3. Prakash Verma (Del) 1:49.47. 1500m: 1. C. Hamza (Ser) 3:39.9s (NMR; Old: 3:40.06s by Bahadur Prasad, 1994), 2. Sajeesh Joseph (Rlys) 3:41.7, 3. Pritam Bind (ONGC) 3:42.0. 5000m: 1. Sunil Kumar (Rlys) 14:00.80s, 2. Kashinath Aswal (Rlys) 14:01.49, 3. Sandeep Kumar (Rlys) 14:02.35. 10,000m: 1. Surender Singh (Ser) 29:04.7s, 2. Sandeep Kumar (Rlys) 29:32.4, 3. Soji Mathew (Rlys) 29: 32.8. 3000m steeplechase: 1. Om Prakash (Ser) 8:48.06s, 2. Arun D’Souza (Rlys) 8:49.24, 3. Elam Singh (Ser) 8:52.15. 110m hurdles: 1. P. Muthuswami (Rlys) 14.10s, 2. Naunidhi Singh (PSCB) 14.21, 3. Ranjit Randhawa (Jhar) 14.22. 400m hurdles: 1. Kuldev Singh (Pol) 50.70s, 2. P. Shankar (ONGC) 51.21, 3. Jitender Singh (Ser) 51.53. High jump: 1. Benedict Starli (Rlys) 2.19m (NMR; Old: 2.18m by Hari Shankar Roy, 2006), 2. Hari Shankar Roy (Rlys) 2.15, 3. Vinod Kumar (Rlys) 2.03. Long jump: 1. Shiv Shankar Yadav (Rlys) 7.73m, 2. Shamsher Pratap Singh (Pun) 7.42, 3. Rajeev Kumar (Pol) 7.35. Triple jump: 1. Amarjeet Singh (Rlys) 16.53m, (NMR; Old: 16.39m by Renjith Maheswary, 2005), 2. Renjith M (Rlys) 16.14, 3. Bibu Mathew (Ser) 16.12. Pole vault: 1. Bimin K. P. (Rlys) 4.80m, 2. R. Ranjith Kumar (TN) 4.70, 3. Gajanan Upadhyay (Rlys) 4.70. Shot put: 1. Satyender Kumar (Rlys) 18.05m, 2. Om Prakash (Har) 17.88, 3. P. B. Giri (Ser) 17.85. Discus: 1. Harpreet (Del) 52.24m, 2. Krishna Kumar Sharma (Bih) 52.06, 3. Sukhbir Singh (Pol) 51.84. Hammer throw: 1. Harinder Singh (Pol) 62.28m, 2. Yogesh (Ser) 59.71, 3. Diwakar Singh (Rlys) 59.31. Javelin: 1. Anil Singh (Rlys) 72.84m, 2. Kasinath (Ser) 72.29, 3. Arun Kumar Patel (Rlys) 69.09. Decathlon: 1. Jora Singh (Har) 6,960 points, 2. Ram Niwas (Rlys) 6,906, 3. Daya Ram (Ser) 6,770. 4x100m relay: 1. Railways 40.42s, 2. Services 40.82, 3. Tamil Nadu 41.61. 4x400m relay: 1. Railways 3:10.20s, 2. Services 3:11.40, 3. Gujarat 3:22.29. 20,000m walk: 1. Babubhai Panocha (Ser) 1:23:40s (NR; Old: 1:25:09s by Babubhai, 2007), 2. P. S. Jalan (Ser) 1:26:55s, 3. Harvinder Singh (Mah) 1:27:10s.

Golden effort... Benedict Starli caused a flutter by defeating the National record holder Hari Shankar Roy in men’s high jump.-S. PATRONOBISH

Golden effort... Women —

100m: 1. Sharda Narayana (Rlys) 11.83s, 2. Poonam Tomar (Rlys) 12.03, 3. Nidhi (Rlys) 12.03. 200m: 1. S. Geetha (Rlys) 24.09s, 2. Nidhi (Rlys) 24.45, 3. H. M. Jyothi (AP) 24.59. 400m: 1. Satti Geetha (Rlys) 54.71s, 2. Mandeep Kaur (ONGC) 55.33, 3. Tintu Luka (Ker) 55.76. 800m: 1. Sinimole Paulose (SPSB) 2:02.02s, 2. Sushma Devi (Rlys) 2:03.88, 3. Vijila A (Ker) 2:04.90. 1500m: 1. Sinimole Paulose (SPSB) 4: 15.5s, 2. O. P. Jaisha (Rlys) 4:18.6, 3. Sushma Devi (Rlys) 4:19.1. 5000m: 1. Preeja Sreedharan (Rlys) 15:45.96s, (NMR; Old: 16:00.98s by Sunita Rani, 1999), 2. O. P. Jaisha (Rlys) 16:01.15, 3. Kavita Raut (Rlys) 16:09.49. 10,000m: 1. Preeja Sreedharan (Rlys) 33:25.0s (NMR; Old: 34:11.45s by Preeja, 2006), 2. Kavita Raut (Rlys) 34:00.5, 3. Preeti L. Rao (Rlys) 36:41.5. 3000m steeplechase: 1. Sudha Singh (Rlys) 10:18.76s (NR; Old: 10:44.65s by S. Shanthi, 2005), 2. Kiran Tiwary (Rlys) 10:50.12, 3. Kamlesh Bhagal (Rlys) 11:03.90. 100m hurdles: 1. Poonam Bojanna (Kar) 14.08s, 2. Anuradha Biswal (Ori) 14.12, 3. G. G. Pramila (Rlys) 14.46. 400m hurdles: 1. V. Leelavathi (TN) 1:00.3s, 2. Shalin Joseph (Rlys) 1:00.9, 3. Pooja Jakhar (ONGC) 1:01.2. High jump: 1. Sahana Kumari (Rlys) 1.82m (NMR; Old: 1.81 by Bobby Aloysius, 1998), 2. Tessymol Joseph (Rlys) 1.70, 3. Sushmita Singha Roy (Ben) 1.65. Long jump: 1. Resmi Bose (Ker) 6.06m, 2. Prajusha M. A. (Rlys) 5.92, 3. J. J. Sobha (Rlys) 5.88. Triple jump: 1. Kulwinder Kaur (PSCB) 12.84m, 2. Tessymol Joseph (Rlys) 12.67, 3. Prajusha M. A. (Rlys) 12.44. Pole Vault: 1. V. S. Surekha (Rlys) 3.75m, 2. Chetna Solanki (Rlys) 3.60, 3. R. Jisha (Rlys) 3.40. Shot put: 1. Manpreet Kaur (Rlys) 13.62m, 2. N. Latha (Rlys) 13.06, 3. Saraswathi (Rlys) 13.05. Discus: 1. Krishna Poonia (Rlys) 52.34m, 2. Saroj Sihag (PSCB) 49.17, 3. Baljit Kaur (PSCB) 48.60. Hammer throw: 1. Ritu Rani (Rlys) 55.94m, 2. Archana Bara (PSCB) 54.69, 3. Phool Pati (PSCB) 50.55. Javelin: 1. Mukesh Kumari (Rlys) 45.96m, 2. Gurpreet Kaur (Har) 45.56, 3. Megha Pardeshi (Rlys) 45.44. Heptathlon: 1. J. J. Sobha (Rlys) 5,508 points, 2. G. G. Pramila (Rlys) 5,390, 3. Soma Biswas (Rlys) 5,297. 4x100m relay: 1. Railways (Sharada N, Nidhi, Rakhi Saha & Poonam Tomar) 45.24s (NMR; Old: 45.25s by AAFI National team, 1998), 2. Andhra Pradesh 47.27, 3. Karnataka 47.35. 4x400m relay: 1. Railways 3:51.11s, 2. Bengal 3:53.52, 3. Kerala 4: 05.36. 20,000m walk: 1. Y. Bala Devi (Rlys) 1:47:08.04s, 2. Manjusha C. N. (Rlys) 1:48:44.46, 3. L. Sharda Devi (Pol) 1:51: 42.16.

Best athlete — men: Babubhai Panocha Best athlete — women: Sinimole Paulose Team championship: Railways.