Karnataka hogs the limelight

K. KEERTHIVASAN

THE appointment of the Australian, Brett James Mace, as the National triathlon coach recently, by the Indian Triathlon Federation, has started yielding results. Though it might be too early to say so, the commitment shown by the unassuming man from Sydney has been impressive, with three of his trainees claiming gold in their respective categories in the National triathlon championship held in Chennai. But the Academy, no doubt, will have its hands full; that of fulfilling its promise of producing top class triathletes for the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.

Kaptan Singh not only won the men's triathlon for the third time, he also took the Asian Cup series.-K. PICHUMANI

The Royal Sundaram first Junior/Sub-junior National Aquathon and eleventh junior/senior Triathlon championship and the Asian Cup series, held in Chennai in December 2001, indicated the sport has competent and committed athletes who can make the country proud provided they are groomed properly.

In the first Aquathon championship, the junior swimmers had to swim 400 m and run 5 km while the sub-juniors had to swim 400 m and run 3 km.

Karnataka grabbed the honours winning nine medals out of 12, and the students of Bangalore's Basavangudi Aquatic Club, coached by S. Pradeep Kumar, hogged the limelight clinching eight medals.

The Asian Cup series-final leg and the National triathlon championship had to be clubbed together as many foreign countries decided to skip the event. The only foreign contingent to enter the fray was Hong Kong.

Triathlon entails the athletes to swim 1.5 km, cycle 40 km and run 10 km, where the juniors and seniors started together at the INS Adyar. It is this gruelling nature of the sport that prevents many talented swimmers from taking part.

Kaptan Singh of Services Sports Control Board in the men's section claimed gold for the third successive time beating his colleague Akhil Sheikh by 18 seconds. He also won the Asian Cup series. He finished all the three races in 2 hrs. 15.20 sec.

The 32-year-old Kaptan, coached by Subhedar Sudan Kirdat, took to triathlon in 1992, and has been successful ever since. He has participated in the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, and his aim now is to win a medal in the Olympics. "Waves were a little bit of a problem.I found the cycling tougher. But the running part was better," said Kaptan, a father of three children,who works for Bombay Engineering Group at Pune. Kaptan trained at the Academy for two months which helped in "sprint and endurance."

Nicole Rayson of Hong Kong emerged winner of the Asian Cup series for women.-K. PICHUMANI

In the junior boys' section, a strong and well built 18-year-old C. Gunavanan of Tamil Nadu, won the junior boys' title. Picked up at the Tamil Nadu Swimmers Parents Association, Gunavanan, son of a fisherman, collected his second gold at the National level, the last being in 1999 at Pune. Gunavanan is now a full-time trainee at the Academy.

T. S. Kavya, a bubbly 16-year-old won her maiden National junior girls title, defeating her nearest rival Yip Kwan Yau (Hong Kong) by 13 minutes. With the Sports Authority of India, Kengeri, Kavya, a student of Mahavir Jain College, took special training for six months under Brett James Mace at the National Academy here.

Nicole Rayson of Hong Kong emerged winner in the Asian Cup series in a time of two hours, 19 minutes, 22 seconds. Sonali Patel of Maharashtra finished second well behind Rayson. But by virtue of being the first Indian to finish, she claimed the National women's title. Not many swimmers are keen to take part in triathlon for the reason that it includes apart from swimming, cycling and running, which take a heavy toll on the athlete's body.

On the organisational front, it was a success. "It requires one to lose sleep and in the process lose some hair too," said Mr. N. Ramachandran, President, Indian Triathlon Federation. He was right. With heavy tides prevailing in the Marina beach, the organisers were extra cautious, and were even forced to reduce the swimming distance in the women's section from 1.5 km to 1 km.

The results: Aquathon:

Junior boys: 1. Skanda R. Aswath (Kar) swim 00.19.14, run 00.17.58, total 00.27.12; 2. S. Manju Deepak (Kar) 00.09.39, 00.18.16, 00.27.55; 3. Pranam Hatwar (Kar) 00.29.24, 00.19.26, 00.28.50.; sub-junior: 1. K. Naveen (Kar) swim 00.05.29, run 00.10.12, total 00.15.41; 2. S. Mani (Man) 00.06.03, 00.10.01, 00.16.04, 3. Jagadeesan (TN) 00.05.36, 00.10.38, 00.16.14.

Junior girls: 1. Prakruthi P. Rao (Kar) swim 00.09.34, run 00.19.21, total 00.28.55; 2. Juie Shetye (Mah) 00.12.40, 00.21.17, 00.33.57; 3. Manaswini Ramachandran (Kar) 00.11.10, 00.25.01, 00.36.11; sub-junior: 1. Pradhita Premnath (Kar) swim 00.05.35, run 00.12.00, total 00.17.35; 2. Navira Shetty (Kar) 00.06.08, 00.11.52, 00.18.00; 3. Shraddha S. Alwa (Kar) 00.06.09, 00.12.04, 00.18.13.

Triathlon:

Men: 1. Kaptan Singh (SSCB) 02.15.20; 2. Akhil Sheikh (SSCB) 02.15.38; 3. T. R. Haridharan (TN) 02.15.48; Asian Cup series: 1. Kaptan Singh (Ind); 2. Akhil Sheikh (Ind); 3. T. R. Haridharan (Ind).

Junior boys: 1. C. Gunavanan (TN) 02.19.45; 2. Mathanghamba Meitei (Man) 02.25.25; 3. S.Jabir (Kar) 02.27.35; Asian Cup: 1. C. Gunavanan (Ind); 2. Mathanghamba Meitei (Ind); 3. S. Jabir (Ind).

Women: 1. Sonali Patel (Mah) 02.52.08; 2. K. Kalpana (TN) 03.14.46; 3. Ram Bhateri (Har) 03.13.22; Asian Cup: 1. Nicole Rayson (Hong Kong) 02.19.22; 2. Sonali Patel (Ind) 02.52.08; 3. Kalpana (Ind).

Junior girls: 1. T. S. Kavya (Kar) 02.32.24; 2. Yip Kwan Yau (Hong Kong) 02.45.27; Asian Cup: 1. T. S. Kavya (Ind).