Manjit, Seema set new marks

WHAT is competitive athletics if a new frontier is not reached as often as possible? Invariably, it underlines the endless endurance and efficiency of the human spirit, the passion for achieving something often reckoned as impossible.

S. THYAGARAJAN

Seema Antil created new records in the women's discus and 400m events respectively. — Pic. VINO JOHN-

WHAT is competitive athletics if a new frontier is not reached as often as possible? Invariably, it underlines the endless endurance and efficiency of the human spirit, the passion for achieving something often reckoned as impossible. The value of such achievements is enhanced if the performers surface from the distaff side.

The National circuit meet in Chennai, the last in the series which afforded one more chance to the competitors to secure an Olympic berth, confirmed the remarkable strides made by our women athletes. At least two of them, Punjab's Manjit Kaur and Haryana's Seema Antil, symbolised the growing stature of Indian women moving into the new realm of excellence in this sport.

Manjit Kaur created new records in the women's discus and 400m events respectively. — Pic. VINO JOHN-

Hovering on the fringe for making it in 400 metres after the first meet in Delhi, the 22-year old Manjit Kaur produced a classic performance to take a pot shot at the national record as well as surpassing the `A' standard qualifying mark. Her time of 51.05s clipped the National record of K.M.Beenamol by 0.16s. The `A' standard qualifying mark is 51.50s.

Interestingly enough, Beenamol, widely expected to hit the target for retaining an Olympic berth, was a pathetic witness to her mark being shattered. Beenamol finished fourth with a time of 51.59s. within the `B' standard grade along with Rajinder Kaur (51.57s) one spot higher. However, there was a heart-warming performance from Kerala's Chitra D.Soman (51.30s) who also obtained an Olympic spot.

For the strapping and cherubic Seema Antil, the discus event was one more attempt to do something more striking. Already in the qualified ranks after that 63.10m at Ukraine, Seema established her credentials over two other qualifiers, Neelam J. Singh and Harwant Kaur. What was remarkable in Seema's effort of 64.64m was that it shattered the 64.55m national record of Neelam set as a gold medal winning throw at the Busan Asian Games in 2002. Neelam, who finished second, could reach only 61.40, almost three metres below that of Seema Antil.

J. J. Shobha who won the 100m hurdles and the long jump golds. -- Pic. VINO JOHN-

Another star in focus was Andhra's J. J. Shobha who won two medals, and a cash award of Rs.10,000 each. A talented heptathlete who is already in the list of the qualifiers, Shobha timed 13.69s for 100 hurdles, and came close enough to hit the `A' standard distance of 6.66m in the long jump falling short by 0.04m. It was Shobha's career best performance. Anju George has the National mark (6.74m).

Comparatively speaking, the quality of performance from men was disappointing. An intense contest was on the cards in the shot put but none of the big guns, Shakti Singh, Bahadur Singh and Navpreet Singh could touch the mandatory 20 metre mark. Only Bahadur Singh with 20.40m throw at Ukraine has so far made the grade. Sandeep Sarkaria in 100 metres and Bhupinder Singh in 400 beat their challenge with noticeable enthusiasm.

The Tamil Nadu Athletics Association, headed by Walter I.Dawaram, deserves accolades for conducting at least one domestic circuit in Chennai or at Nagercoil every year. This meet too was to be organised by Nagercoil, but was shifted to Chennai where the best facilities are available to athletes.

The results Men

100 metres: 1. Sandeep Sarkaria (ONGC) (10.46s), 2. Piyush Kumar (Railways) (10.47s), 3. Vilas Neela Gund (Kar) (10.63s). 200 metres: 1. Anil Kumar (Ker) (20.94s), 2. Piyush Kumar (Railways) (21.20s), 3.H. Jeyachandran (LIC) (21.21s). 400 metres: Race `A': 1. Bhupinder Singh (Punjab) (45.89s), 2. P. Ramachandran (TN) (46.22s), 3. K. J. Manoj Lal (Ker) (46.26s). Race `B': 1. P. S. Primesh (Ker) (48.55s), 2. Shiv Pratap (UP) (49.58s), 3. Lokesh Fauzdar (Rajasthan) (50.36s).

Long Jump: 1. Sanjay Rai (Railways) (7.58m), 2. Rajeev Kumar (CRPF) (7.56m), 3. Ashok Kumar (TN) (7.54m). Triple Jump: 1. Amarjit Singh (Punjab) (16.25m), 2. Diago (ONGC) (14.88m), 3. K. Saintison (SSCB) (14.31m). Shot put: 1. Shakti Singh (Railways) (19.64m), 2. Bahadur Singh (Punjab) (19.45m), 3. Ranvijay Singh (UP) (18.69 m). Hammer throw: 1.Kulwinder Singh (Police) (61.95 m), 2.Nirbhay Singh (SSCB) (59.69m). Javelin throw: 1. Jagdish Bishnoi (Police) (74.12m), 2. Gajendra Kumar (UP) (72.83m), 3. Lijesh Kumar (SSCB) (70.83m). 4 x 100 relay: 1. Indian team (V. G. Nagraj, Srinivasan, Harshad Hussain, Sandeep Sarkaria) (40.01s); 2. SSCB.

Women

200 metres: 1. Saraswathi Saha (WB) (23.75s), 2. Soma Biswas (WB) (24.41s), 3. H. M. Jothi (Kar) (25.65s). 400 metres: 1.Manjit Kaur (Punjab) (51.05s National record), 2. Chitra K.Soman (Ker) (51.30s), 3. Rajinder Kaur (Punjab) (51.57s).100 m hurdles: 1. J. J. Shobha (AP) (13.69s), 2. K. N. Priya (TN) (13.99s), 3. G. G. Pramila (Kar) (14.07s). High jump: 1. Sahana Kumari (Kar) (1.79m), 2. Amudha (TN) (1.70m). Long jump: J. J. Shobha (AP) (6.66m), 2. G. G. Pramila (Kar) (6.39m), 3. Kalpana Das (Railways) (5.96m). Discus throw: 1. Seema Antil (Haryana) (64.64 National record), 2. Neelam J. Singh (RSCB) (61.40m), 3. Harwant Kaur (Punjab) (58.84m).