Manohar, Rupinder triumph

STRANGE, really. Despite winning their maiden all-India inter-university cross country titles at Kolencherry the other day, the two new champions kept slipping away after each question from the media.

Clearly, Kumaun University's Manohar Singh Kanyal and Guru Nanak Dev's Rupinder Kaur appeared to be publicity shy after their winning run. Probably, they were not very familiar with the big stage and spotlights.

Country roads are actually their home, the stage they are most familiar with. Long distance runners often lead very lonely lives, whether on the hills, tracks or on the road. Their sport often forces them into long stretches of solitude. Even their running and breathing have a rhythm, which often pushes runners into a `trance-like' zone.

Manohar Singh Kanyal won the men title.-

"Yes, ours is often a very lonely sport. And I run for nearly five hours every day on the hills," said Manohar Singh, a second-year BA student of GPGC College, Pithoragarh, a lovely hill station in Uttaranchal which is popularly known as `Little Kashmir'.

Rupinder Karur won the women title.-

Manohar Singh is not a steady runner and, in fact, a very inconsistent strategy in the 12-km event fetched him the men's gold at the varsities meet, jointly organised by the Mahatma Gandhi University and the St. Peter's College, Kolencherry, about 30-km from Kochi.

"First I started slowly, waiting for the body to warm up and then I used a fast-slow-fast strategy which I'm familiar with at home," said the 21-year-old who is into hill running for nearly a decade.

Rupinder, the women's champion, is more into track running. A former junior National 10,000 and 5,000m champion, the I year BA student of BBK DAV College (Amritsar) comes from a family of sport stars which includes shot put international Harwant Kaur, her cousin.

Guru Nanak Dev University men took the team titles. — Pics. H. VIBHU-

Rupinder, who was in the top pack till the halfway mark in the 6-km race, broke away after that and won comfortably.

Guru Nanak University men (Amritsar) and host Mahatma Gandhi women (Kottayam) retained the team titles, the latter winning the crown for the fourth consecutive year.

Guru Nanak's best finisher in the men's section was Rajesh Kumar who took the runner-up spot. Though the Mahatma Gandhi girls won the team honours by a big margin, the host's best finisher was Bincy George who was fourth in the individual list. Mahatma Gandhi had won both the individual and team honours last year.

Mahatma Gandhi varsity women took the team titles. — Pics. H. VIBHU-

Final placings

Men (12 km): 1. Manohar Singh Kanyal (Kumaun University, Nainital, 43 mins, 58.4 secs), 2. Rajesh Kumar (Guru Nanak Dev, Amritsar, 44.19.9), 3. Helwade Harun (Sivaji, 44:29.2).

Women (6 km): 1. Rupinder Kaur (Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, 24 mins, 29.9 secs), 2. Geeta (Delhi, 24:35.3), 3. Pawar Megha (Sivaji, 25:06.1). Team championships (team with least number of points wins the title): Men: 1. Guru Nanak Dev, Amritsar (89 points), 2. Mahatma Gandhi University (Kottayam, 137), 3. Kurukshethra (172), 4. Sivaji (176), 5. Calicut (234). Women: Mahatma Gandhi, Kottayam (33 pts), 2. Guru Nanak Dev, Amritsar (68), 3. Calicut (78), 4. Mangalore (96), 5. Nagpur (105).

Stan Rayan