Below par, to say the least

AVINASH NAIR

Tamil Nadu's S. Shanthi created a new National record in the women's steeplechase event.-G.P. SAMPATHKUMAR

ONE National record and three new meet marks do not augur well in a major meet, which is in the midst of a busy season and just ahead of the World championships at Helsinki. But that was all what the MetLife sponsored 45th edition of the National Inter-State athletics championships for the seniors, provided, at the worn-out Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bangalore.

Dr. Lalit Bhanot, the secretary general of the Athletic Federation of India ruled on the concluding day that "no further events will be held at this centre as there have been lots of complaints from the athletes and officials regarding the state of the surface," and it was only adding to the long standing cry from the local association. In fact the annual National circuit meet slated for August 21 at this very same venue has been shifted to Patiala. But are the local administrators and people who matter, listening?

Not that it matters though! The depth to which Indian athletics has plunged post-Athens is something that has everybody sitting up and crying foul or giving suggestions. But the federation on its own has done little but for sending a `big' contingent to the Asian Grand Prix circuit, which again seemed an `out-of-the-blue' effort from most of the participants. Only Navpreet Singh in the shot put event and ace sprinter Anil Kumar showed some consistency and of the two the former did not feel it important to participate in this meet. So did many others — Maha Singh (long jump), Jagdish Bishnoi (javelin throw) and women's discus thrower Seema Antil — all of whom participated in the Asian GP came up with the usual excuse of weariness, for their absence.

Olympians Anju George, J. J. Shobha and Neelam J. Singh were far from impressive leaving many who braved the rains to watch them in action, disappointed. Heptathlete Shobha on her part was coming back after a long lay-off, recuperating from the knee-injury that she suffered during the javelin throw event at the Olympics. She tried her hand only in the shot put event, and finished last. "I have just tried this event out here... to gauge my fitness and should slowly come back to serious training in a couple of months time," said the multiple event star.

Anju managed a dismal 6.09 metres in her last attempt which was enough to fetch her the gold but surely it was a distance that she would have probably achieved blindfold or in her school and early college days. Neelam, in the absence of both Seema Antil and Harwant Kaur (who blamed her `fitness'), had only Krishna Punia to contend with and emerged an easy winner, but at an amazingly poor distance of 57.52 metres. K. M. Binu, who had enthralled the entire nation with his gutsy running in the Olympics, opted out citing `inadequate training sessions' and is gearing up for the Commonwealth and Asian Games, both next year.

Sathi Geetha and Patlavath Shankar were adjudged the best athletes of the meet.-G.P. SAMPATHKUMAR

Among the other participants veteran Shakti Singh, at 43, made good of the opportunity to clinch the gold though with a far from impressive 18.80 metres, while Satbir Singh at 31, a late bloomer, capped the one lap event gold with a lot to spare.

One athlete to catch the eye proved to be the `dark-horse' S. Shanthi of Tamil Nadu. The 24-year-old, who has been ensued a job with the Western Railway ran a superb race in the 3000 metres steeplechase to rewrite the only National record of the championship. The Pudukkottai girl chugged with hardly any challenge and on the home stretch her eyes lit up seeing the clock and a chance of creating a National record. Shanthi was timed at 10:44.65 seconds, which bettered L. Manjula's four-year old mark of 10:52.12 seconds.

Shanthi made it doubly memorable when she sprinted the last 60 odd metres to breast the tape ahead of Sathi Geetha of Andhra Pradesh in the women's 800 metres, also in a good time of 2:07.76 seconds.

Rajasthan's Ghamanda Ram was another to bag a double. The gutsy runner won the 1500 metres on the second day and again the 800 metres on the final day, with a new meet record to boot. Ghamanda's best of 1:47.99 seconds is indeed good by Indian standards for the 800 metres, though still way behind Sriram Singh's almost three-decade old National record of 1:45.77 seconds. Gajanan Upadhyay of Uttar Pradesh in the men's pole vault upped Vijay Pal Singh's mark of 4.91 metres in the event to 4.95 metres in his last try for another meet mark, while Bala Devi of West Bengal erased the women's 20-km walk mark with a 1 hr 44:37.0 seconds effort.

Patlavath Shankar and Sathi Geetha of Andhra Pradesh walked away with the `best male and female' athletes of the meet awards, besides the Rs. 10,000 announced by the Karnataka Olympic Association (KOA) president K. Govindaraj. Tamil Nadu won the women's team title and the overall championship, while Kerala took the men's honours.

The results

Gajana Upadhyay ... new meet record in men's pole vault.-

Men: 1500m: 1. Ghamanda Ram (Raj) 3:49.12s, 2. Pritam Kumar (U'chal) 3:52.73s, 3. Sunil Kumar Singh (Har) 3:56.31s; 10000m: 1. Kuldip Kumar (U.P.) 31:07.92s, 2. R. B. Subba (Del) 31:23.98s, 3. Surender Singh (Mah) 31:31.23s. 100m: 1. Sandeep Sarkaria (Del) 10.45s, 2. H. Jayachandran (TN) 10.47s, 3. Vilas Neelgund (Kar) 10.47s; 3000m steeplechase: 1. Arun D'Souza (AP) 9:03.68s, 2. Bhagwan Giri (U.P.) 9:10.45s, 3. Mahesh Kumar (M.P.) 9:25.32s; Long jump: 1. Shamsher Singh (Raj) 7.66m, 2. Rajesh Babu (Del) 7.60m, 3. Wayne Peppin (TN) 7.29m; Shot put: 1. Shakti Singh (Har) 18.80m, 2. P. B. Giri (M.P.) 18.15m, 3. Jaivir Singh (Har) 17.94m. 400m: 1. Satbir Singh (Har) 46.49s, 2. Shankar Patlavath (AP) 46.79s, 3. Anil Kumar Rohil (Del) 47.19s; 110m hurdles: 1. Gurpreet Singh (Pun) 14.37s, 2. Krishna Mohan (AP) 14.43s, 3. Prince Mathew (Ker) 14.77s; High jump: 1. Benadict Starli (TN) 2.11m, 2. K. R. Roshan (Ker) 2.08m, 3. S. Sreenath (Kar) 2.08m; Hammer throw: 1. Harpal Singh (Pun) 64.66m, 2. Madhu Kumar (Har) 62.54m, 3. Pargat Singh (Pun) 59.64m; 20 km walk: 1. Gurdev Singh (Pun) 1 hr 30:40.0s, 2. P. S. Jalan (Ker) 1 hr 30:45.0s, 3. Gurmit Singh (Pun) 1 hr 32:06.0s; 4x100m relay: 1. Karnataka 40.61s, 2. Kerala 40.95s, 3. Tamil Nadu 41.65s. 200m: 1. Anil Kumar (Ker) 21.00s, 2. Vilas Neelgund (Kar) 21.08s, 3. A. Aravind (TN) 21.11s; 800m: 1. Ghamanda Ram (Raj) 1:47.99s (NMR), 2. P. S. Primesh (Ker) 1:51.22s, 3. J. M. Mathew (Kar) 1:52.88s; 5000m: 1. Sunil Kumar Singh (Har) 14:40.60s, 2. Kuldip Kumar (U.P.) 14:42.60s, 3. Sitaram (Mah) 14:43.80s; 400m hurdles: 1. Shankar Patlavath (AP) 50.97s, 2. Joseph Abraham (Ker) 51.81s, 3. Gurpreet Singh (Pun) 52.39s; Triple jump: 1. M. Renjith (Ker) 15.69m , 2. Bhupinder Singh (Pun) 15.62m, 3. K. C. Saintison (Ker) 15.62m; Pole vault: 1. Gajanan Upadhyay (U.P.) 4.95m (NMR), 2. R. Ranjith Kumar (TN) 4.80m, 3. Geesh Kumar (Ker) 4.70m; Javelin throw: 1. Kashinath Naik (Mah) 73.00m, 2. Om Narayan (Har) 72.44m, 3. Gurkirat Singh (Pun) 71.95m; Discus throw: 1. Amandeep Singh (Pun) 53.30m, 2. Harpreet Singh (Del) 52.22m, 3. Amritpal Singh (Pun) 52.16m; 4x400m relay: 1. Kerala 3:11.77s, 2. Andhra Pradesh 3:11.8s, 3. Haryana 3:12.00s.

Team championship: 1. Kerala 71 points, 2. Punjab 64, 3. Haryana 59.

Best male athlete: P. Shankar (AP).

Women: 1500m: 1. Sunita Rani (Pun) 4:25.13s, 2. S. Shanthi (TN) 4:31.08s, 3. O. P. Jaisha (Ker) 4:31.70s; 10000m: 1. L. Aruna Devi (WB) 36:55.53s, 2. Pampa Chanda (WB) 38:22.99s 3. Preethi L Rao (Kar) 38:47.37s; Pole vault: 1. Chetna Solanki (U.P.) 3.50m (EMR), 2. V. S. Surekha (TN) 3.50m (EMR), 3. Gitanjali Bora (Assam) 3.30m; Shot put: 1. Chaitali Paul (WB) 14.34m, 2. Archana Mondal (WB) 13.27m, 3. A. Anitcham (TN) 12.63m; Hammer throw: 1. Usma Daryan (U.P.) 55.73m, 2. Rajwinder Kaur (Pun) 54.75m, 3. Ritu Rani (U.P.) 53.39m. 100m: 1. K. M. Greeshma (Ker) 2. G. D. Gowramma (Kar) 11.97s, 3. Deepthi Jose (Ker) 12.02s; 3000m steeplechase: 1. S. Shanthi (TN) 10:44.65s (National Record), 2. B. L. Bharathi (Kar) 11:38.27s, 3. A. Papathi (TN) 12:47.80s; High jump: 1. Sushmita Singh (WB) 1.73m, 2. M. Sangeetha (TN) 1.70m, 3. D. Karpuramala (TN) 1.65m; Javelin throw: 1. Suman Devi (U.P.) 51.73m, 2. Monisha Mondal (WB) 50.27m, 3. M. K. Prajeesha (Ker) 49.61m; 20 km walk: 1. Bala Devi (WB) 1 hr 44:37.0s (NMR), 2. Amandeep Kaur (Pun) 1 hr 45:43.0s, 3. L. Deepmala Devi (Mani) 1 hr 47;14.0s. 400m: 1. Geeta Sathi (AP) 52.49s, 2. Rajwinder Kaur Gill (Pun) 53.02s, 3. Manjit Kaur (Pun) 53.92s; 100m hurdles: 1. K. N. Priya (TN) 13.72s, 2. Anuradha Biswal (Ori) 13.84s, 3. Simi Sebastian (Ker) 14.28s; High jump: 1. Anju George (TN) 6.09m, 2. K. Revathi (TN) 5.86m, 3. Noosheen Rajendran (TN) 5.85m; 4x100m relay: 1. Kerala 47.56s, 2. Tamil Nadu 47.97s, 3. Karnataka 48.26s. 200m: 1. Rajwinder Kaur Gill (Pun) 23.72s, 2. Saradha Narayan (TN) 24.93s, 3. Ranjita Roy (WB) 25.08s; 800m: 1. S. Shanthi (TN) 2:07.76s, 2. Geetha Sathi (AP) 2:08.06s, 3. Sinimol Paulose (Jhar) 2:08.48s; 5000m: 1. O. P. Jaisha (Ker) 17:53.97s, 2. Pampa Chanda (WB) 18:03.35s, 3. Preeja Sreedharan (Ker) 18:12.96s; 400m hurdles: 1. Chitra Soman (Jhar) 59.62s, 2. Pooja Jakhar (Del) 1:00.51s, 3. Vijayalakshmi (Kar) 1:00.54s; Triple jump: 1. K. Revathi (TN) 12.83m, 2. V. S. Libiya (Ker) 12.57m, 3. Tincy Philip (Ker) 12.32m; Discus throw: 1. Neelam J. Singh (Har) 57.52m, 2. Krishna Punia (Raj) 55.96m, 3. Archana Mondal (WB) 42.50m; 4x400m relay: 1. Tamil Nadu 3:47.7s, 2. AP 3:51.6s, 3. WB 3:51.8s; Heptathlon: 1. Sushmita Singha (WB) 5287pts, 2. Rose Mary Anthony (Ker) 4147 pts, 3. V. Leelavathi (TN) 4123 pts.

Team championship: 1. Tamil Nadu 126 points, 2. West Bengal 81, 3. Kerala 70.

Best female athlete: Sathi Geetha (AP).

Overall champions: Tamil Nadu 168 points, 2. Kerala 141, 3. Punjab 103.