Light amidst gloom

Bengal’s Chandan Bauri set two national records in the under-16 category at the 29th Junior National Athletics Championship.-Pics: K. MURALI KUMAR

Kerala, as has been the case in the past, dominated the five-day event, with its girls excelling and helping it to win the overall championship for the third year in a row. By Avinash Nair.

Doping and age fraud controversies, in recent times, have overshadowed on-field performances in Indian athletics. And the 29th edition of the Junior National Athletics, which was held at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bangalore, had no different story to tell.

The nine National records and an equal number of meet records that were rewritten in the five-day championship were indeed significant, but the meet lost its gloss with each passing day as more and more overage athletes got caught.

To make matters worse, there were vials and syringes by the bucketful behind a good number of dormitory rooms, despite the presence of the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA). The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) immediately needs to impose severe penalties to curb a menace, which seems already ingrained in the system. Instead of a mere two-year ban, the AFI needs to be more stringent in penalising the guilty — the athletes, the coaches and even the erring associations.

The parent body also needs to do a positive rethinking on the prize money for medal winners. Under-16 and under-18 athletes are offered cash rewards for doing well at national and international meets. The money, however, should not be handed over immediately, but kept in deposits to be given out, with full interest, once the athlete turns 21. It is the lure of this prize money that makes coaches and athletes resort to devious means to achieve glory.

The overage issue needs to be sorted out with proper medical tests, conducted, at least, 48 hours before the commencement of the meet. A genuine athlete gets no pleasure in being upgraded to a medal position on a later date. It is the guilty party who hogs all the limelight on the event day. It serves only as a meagre solace for all the sweat and toil an athlete puts in.

Kerala's Athira Surendran won the girls under-18 triple jump event.-

Despite the poor track conditions (AFI can improve here too, providing good infrastructure), records were rewritten both on the track and field alike. Chandan Bauri of West Bengal was simply unstoppable in the under-16 section, winning the sprint double and setting up two national records. Also amongst the national records were Jessy Joseph, who clipped her own 800 metres mark in the girls’ under-18 category, by two seconds, Sanchay K. Paul and Athira Surendran.

Kerala, as has been the case in the past, dominated the five-day event, with its girls excelling and helping it to win the overall championship for the third year in a row. Haryana had dented its supremacy in 2010 after a 15-year reign.

Tamilnadu, also powered by its girls and the relay quartet, came in a distant second.

* * * HIGHLIGHTS

Records: Boys U-16: 400m: Chandan Bauri (WB) 48.24 (NR, Old: 49.14, Arjun Khokhar, 2010). 200m: Chandan Bauri (WB) 22.11 (NR. Old: 22.30, M.S. Arun, 2012). Long Jump: Sahil Mahabali (Har) 7.27 (NR, Old: 7.19, V.S. Vineeth, 2005). Sprint medley relay: TN (Ravikumar, M.S. Arun, T. Santhoshkumar, R. Balakrishnan) 1:58.02 (NR, Old: 1:58.99, TN, 2012).

U-14: 100m: Sanchay K. Paul (WB) 11.14 (NR, Old: 11.42, B. Karthikeyan, 2010).

Girls: U-18: 800m: Jessy Joseph (Ker) 2:08.65 (NR, Old: 2:08.67, Jessy Joseph, 2013). Heptathlon: Swapna Barman (WB) 4992 points (NR, Old: 4983, Pooja, 2004). Triple jump: Athira Surendran (Ker) 12.86 (NR, Old: 12.78, G. Gayathri, 2008).

U-14: Shot Put: Mahashri Baloda (Del) 11.63 (NR, Old: 11.01, Anamika Das, 2012).

Team championship: Boys: U-20: Kerala; U-18: Kerala; U-16: Haryana; U-14: Haryana.

Girls: U-20: Kerala; U-18: Kerala; U-16: Tamil Nadu; U-14: Tamil Nadu.

Overall championship: Kerala (585 points).

Best athletes: Boys: U-20: Sumit Malik (HP); U-18: Nirbhay Singh (Har); U-16: Mankirat Singh (Pun); U-14: Sourav (Har).

Girls: U-20: S. Archana (TN); U-18: Jessy Joseph (Ker) [wrongly given to G. Karthika of TN first]; U-16: Tiasha Samadder (WB); U-14: Maharshi Baluda (Del).