Indians disappoint

EVEN the presence of one of the most successful athletes of the sub-continent, Susanthika Jayasinghe, failed to inject much life into the Asian Grand Prix athletics meet which was held in Hyderabad.

ABHIJIT SEN GUPTA

Gennadiy Chernovol (108) sprints his way to the finish of the men's 100m. Suwornprateep Sittichai (117) and Ekkachai Junthana (116) were second and third respectively. —Pic. K. RAMESH BABU-

EVEN the presence of one of the most successful athletes of the sub-continent, Susanthika Jayasinghe, failed to inject much life into the Asian Grand Prix athletics meet which was held in Hyderabad. The meet which was the first of the series for the year 2003 ran into trouble several days before it was scheduled to be held.

That was when it became known that China and Japan would not be taking part apparently due to the SARS scare which had affected many other sports events around the world. China and Japan are the super powers of athletics in the continent and the absence of the athletes from these countries automatically lowered the competitive level of the meet. Last year China had picked up four gold, one silver and one bronze medals.

At one stage it looked like there would be further withdrawals and even some of those countries which confirmed their participation did not enter their top names. Thailand arrived without Reanchai Sriharwong who had won the 100 metres last year. Even some of the top Indian names were missing from the fray due to various reasons. They included Anju George and K. M. Binu (both training abroad) and K. M. Beenamol (due to injury).

But when Sri Lanka confirmed that it would be taking part in the Hyderabad meet with its stars, the organisers heaved a sigh of relief. Truly the Sri Lankans saved the day for their Indian hosts by arriving with a strong squad which included Susanthika Jayasinghe, Damayanthi Darsha, Sugath Tillekaratne, Rohan Pradeep Kumara and Sriyani Kulawansa Fonseca.

And on the day of the meet the Sri Lankan stars lived up to expectations when Susanthika came up with a new meet record (11.30 secs) while winning the 100 metres, Rohan Pradeep Kumara won the gold and Sugath Tillekaratne the silver in the men's 400 and Damayanthi Darsha and Sriyani Kulawansa also picked up medals in their respective events.

In the women's 100 metres Susanthika was slightly behind the leaders initially but soon after the half way stage she shifted into top gear and surged past Guzel Khubbieva of Uzbekistan to hit the tape first. Guzel had to be satisfied with silver and Orranut Klmodee gave Thailand the bronze with a late burst which saw her overtake Busan silver medallist Lyubov Perpelova of Uzbekistan. All three medallists broke the old mark of 11.52 set by Damayanthi Darsha last year.

The only other meet record came in the women's 800 metres where several good runners were in the fray. There was Zamira Amirova of Uzbekistan, a bronze medal winner at the Busan Asiad as well as Colombo Asian meet and Tatyana Borisova of Kyrgystan a silver medallist at Colombo. But it was Tatyana Roslanova who ran a well paced race to register a comfortable victory. Zamira got the silver and Borisova the bronze. Again all three medal winners broke the old mark of 2m 4.13 secs set by Wang Yuanping of China.

The men's 100 metres was won by the favourite Gennadiy Chernovol of Kazakhstan. Till the half way stage at least four runners were going shoulder to shoulder but thereafter Chernovol who had a silver in the 100 metres at Colombo, came up with a burst of speed which gave him a narrow victory margin over the others. Thai sprinters Suwornprateep Sittichai and Ekkachai Junthana took silver and bronze respectively.

In the women's 400 metres Damayanthi Darsha, who had won the race here last year after a stiff fight with K. M. Beenamol, was shocked by Svetlana Bodritskaya of Kazakhstan. In fact the absence of Beenamol disappointed fans who were expecting the two runners to renew their rivalry here. In the men's javelin the top rated thrower Sergey Voynov, a bronze winner at the Busan Asiad, lived upto expectations with a good effort of 78.36 which gave him the gold. Ramandeep took the silver while the experienced Jagdish Bishnoi had a bad day and could muster only 67.35 but luckily it was enough to give him the bronze.

Thailand's hopes in the women's shot put rested on Juthaporn Krasaeyan a gold medallist at Colombo (with 18.05 m) but she was off colour and managed a poor 16.10 m to take the bronze while the silver went to Guirong Zhang of Singapore and her countrywoman Du Xianhui, Asia's second ranked putter last year, came up with a good effort of 18.38 m in her last attempt to take the gold.

As expected India magaged to pick up two silver and seven bronze medals. But the failure to get even a single gold medal may have come as a disappointment for fans. The host finished eighth on the medals tally. First was Kazakhstan with four golds and one silver while Sri Lanka with two golds and four silvers was second and Thailand with two golds, one silver and three bronzes was third.

But most of the contests were quite pedestrian and overall the meet seemed to lack the enthusiasm and excitement which was witnessed in the first edition held here last year. The spectators were few and preferred to remain silent when the contests were in progress and even when the medal winners waved to them in an effort to get some response.

The results: Men:

Discus throw: 1. Abbas Samimi (Iran) 61.06 m; 2. Anil Kumar (India) 57.83 m; 3. Sultan Al Dawodi (Saudi Arabia) 55.70 m. Long jump: 1. Mohammed Al-Khuwaildi (Saudi Arabia) 7.85 m; 2. Ahmed Al Dossary (Saudi Arabia) 7.51 m; 3. Maha Singh (India) 7.38 m.

110 m hurdles : 1. Janjai Narongdech (Thailand) 14.14 secs; 2. A.I. Kumara D'Silva (Sri Lanka) 14.37 secs; 3. Navnidh Singh (India) 14.48 secs. 400 m: 1. Rohan Pradeep Kumara (Sri Lanka) 45.95 secs; 2. Sugath Tillekaratne (Sri Lanka) 46.28 secs; 3. Anil K. Rohil (India) 47.77 secs.

100m: 1. Gennadiy Chernovol (Kazakhstan) 10.42 secs; 2. Suwornprateep Sittichai (Thailand) 10.54 secs; 3. Ekkachai Junthana (Thailand) 10.54 secs. 800m : 1. Mohammed Al-Salhi (Saudi Arabia) 1m 50.04 secs; 2. Mikhail Kolganov (Kazakhstan) 1m 50.43 secs; 3. P.S. Primesh (India) 1m 51.10 secs. Javelin throw : 1. Sergey Voynov (Uzbekistan) 78.36 m; 2. Ramandeep Singh (India) 76.92 m; 3. Jagdish Bishnoi (India) 67.35 m.

Women:

100m hurdles: 1. Trecia Roberts (Thailand) 13.22 secs; 2. Sriyani Kulawansa Fonseca (Sri Lanka) 13.32 secs; 3. Soma Biswas (India) 14.30 secs. Shot put: 1. Du Xianhui (Singapore) 18.38 m; 2. Guirong Zhang (Singapore) 17.84 m; 3. Juthaporn Krasyean (Thailand) 16.10 m.

400m: 1. Svetlana Bodritskaya (Kazakhstan) 52.59 secs; 2. Damayanthi Darsha (Sri Lanka) 52.78 secs; 3. S.Geetha (India) 56.75secs. 100m : 1. Susanthika Jayasinghe (Sri Lanka) 11.30 secs (NMR) (OR 11.52 secs by Damayanthi Darsha of Sri Lanka); 2. Guzel Khubbieva (Uzbekistan) 11.35 secs; 3. Orranut Klomdee (Thailand) 11.45 secs.

800m: 1. Tatyana Roslanova (Kazakhstan) 2m 2.05 secs (NMR) (OR 2m 4.13 secs by Wang Yuanping of China); 2. Zamira Amirova (Uzbekistan) 2m 2.82 secs; 3. Tatyana Borisova (Kyrgystan) 2m 3.75 secs. Long jump: 1. Yelena Koshcheyeva (Kazakhstan) 6.62 m; 2. Marestela Torres (Phil) 6.21 m; 3. Elena Bobrovskaya (Kyrgystan) 6.15 m.