India shines

P.U. Chithra... a grand show in Malaysia.-VIPIN CHANDRAN

There were some superb individual efforts from the Indian contingent at the Asian schools meet in Malaysia. P.K. Ajith Kumar has the details.

India’s future on the track, at the Asian level at least, looks fairly promising, if the recent Asian schools meet in Malaysia is anything to go by. The Indian kids won an impressive 29 medals, including 12 gold, to finish second in the tally, behind the host.

The competition may not have been of the highest class at Kuantan, but it is not every day that India wins so many medals in an athletics meet, pushing behind seven countries. And there were some superb individual efforts from the Indian contingent. Like that of P.U. Chithra, who won three gold.

Mohammed Afsal... revelled in the boys' section.-

The Kerala girl had struck gold in the 1500m and 3000m before she joined V.V. Jisha, who had already won the 400m hurdles gold, C. Babitha and Anjana Thamke for the 4 x 400m relay. “I had joined the relay squad only at the camp in Pune and it was exciting to win the gold for the country,” says Chithra. “All of us ran well, but it was a splendid run in the final lap by Anjana that gave us the gold.”

It was the second gold of the meet for Anjana. The extremely promising athlete from Maharashtra had taken the gold in 800m. In the girls’ section, there were also fine performances by Ruma Sarkar, who won the silver in both the sprints, and Sapna Burman, who struck gold in high jump, silver in javelin and bronze in hammer throw. India’s other golden girls in Malaysia were T.S. Arya (100m hurdles), Meghana Devanga (shot put).

India’s star in the boys’ section was P. Mohammed Afsal, who won the 800m and 1500m events. The Kerala lad has been making rapid strides under the watchful eyes of his coach P.G. Manoj, who had to foot all his bills on his own to fly to Malaysia. “I decided to spend more than Rs. 1 lakh from my pocket as I wanted to guide two of my trainees,” says the Physical Education teacher at Parli HS, Palakkad. “I am happy that both Afsal and Jisha finished with two gold each.”

Another school teacher from Palakkad, N.S. Sijin, too had to dig into his savings to accompany his ward, Chithra, for the meet.

“His presence was of a great help to me in Malayasia,” says the golden girl. “I have been training under him for the last many years at Mundur HS.”

MEDAL WINNERS

Boys (gold): 800m: P. Mohammed Afsal (1:53.69); 1500m: P. Mohammed Afsal (3:58.34); Shot put: Shakti Solanki (17.41m); Triple jump: N. Abdulla Aboobacker (14.88m); Silver: 800m: Rahul Harveer Singh (1:54.83); 1500m: Rahul Harveer Singh (3:59.84); Long jump: Bikramjit Singh (7.14m); Discus throw: Shakti Solanki (40.27m).

Girls (gold): 800m: Anjana Thamke (2:10.53); 1500m: P.U. Chithra (4:39.11); 3000m: P.U. Chithra (10:05.22); 100m hurdles: T.S. Arya (14.86); 400m hurdles: V.V. Jisha (1:05.69); High jump: Sapna Burman (1.69m); Shot put: Meghana Devanga (12.91m); 4 x 400m relay: V.V. Jisha, C. Babitha, P.U. Chithra and Anjana Thamke (3:53.88); Silver: 100m: Ruma Sarkar (12.31); 200m: Ruma Sarkar (25.44); 1500m: Sanjivani Jadhav (4:44.18); 3000m: Sanjivani Jadhav (10:08.76); Pole vault: Maria Jaison (3.10m); Triple jump: Rochelle Maria Macfarlane (12.64m); Javelin: Sapna Burman (41.71m); Bronze: 800m: C. Babitha (2:13.92); 100m hurdles: Ankita Gosavi (15.01); 5km walk: A.M. Bincy (29:14.25); Long jump: Jenimol Joy (5.58m); Javelin: Pushpa Jakhar (39.35m); Hammer throw: Sapna Burman (16.60m).