Piyush Kumar and Surekha adjudged best

PIYUSH KUMAR and V. Surekha, adjudged `best athletes' of the Standard Chartered 44th National Open athletics championship, wished for bigger rewards in the form of international exposure.

Nandakumar Marar

PIYUSH KUMAR and V. Surekha, adjudged `best athletes' of the Standard Chartered 44th National Open athletics championship, wished for bigger rewards in the form of international exposure. The 23-year-old Delhi sprinter, Piyush, winner of the 100m dash and a second place in 200, hoped the Amateur Athletic Federation of India (AAFI) would pay attention to male athletes by picking up promising talent for competitions abroad. The 20-year-old Chennai pole vaulter, Surekha, holder of the only National mark established in the three-day event, has set her sights on gaining Russian expertise. Indian Railways bagged the overall team title (338 points) as against 150 by Services.

Piyush Kumar (No. 333) of Indian Railways on way to victory in the men's 100m. -- Pic. VIVEK BENDRE-

"Women athletes get most opportunities. I hope the decision-makers realise that even Indian men can cut down timings in higher levels of competition," observed Piyush, a St. Stephens College alumni, who won three medals (100m gold in 10.45 seconds, 200 silver in 21.52s and 4x400 relay silver representing Indian Railways). "I am looking at cutting down my 100m timing from 10.35 (personal best) to 10.28 with advanced training and hopefully in a competition better than that available in India," said the professional athlete employed with Northern Railways. He pointed out that the Mumbai time of 10.45 was because of running into the wind. "The winds coming off the sea can make the difference here. If you are running against it, sprinting is difficult. If the wind is behind you, the timing will be lower."

Training tips

Surekha opted for the pole vault three years ago and has already upped the national mark twice (3.51m in 2003, 3.55m in 2004). "Russia sets the standards in pole vault, so training with their athletes will be helpful," said this MOB Vaishnav College graduate and Southern Railway athlete, picking up training tips from television clippings of international pole vaulters. "I watched Yelena Isinbayeva closely during the Athens Olympics telecasts and have jotted down notes. You will see the changes next season." Coached by R. Manickraj at Madras Medical College grounds, she switched to the vault after low haemoglobin count ended her athletic training for long jump. "I was warned of a heart attack if long jump sessions continued, in my physical condition. So I started taking part in rope-climbing with the boys. Seeing my aptitude and interest, the coach suggested the pole vault."

V. S. Surekha bettered the National mark in the women's pole vault event. -- Pic. SHASHI ASHIWAL-

B. L. Bharathi, participating in only the second race of her career, lowered the meet mark in 3000m steeplechase, clocking 11 min, 07.13 seconds after taking the lead by the fifth lap. A cross country runner, trained by father Laxman since the age of three at Tumkur (Karnataka), the 21-year-old joined the Sports Authority of India (Bangalore) Centre of Excellence recently for a serious look at athletics, aware of the benefits of organised training. She shuttled between cities, Open Nationals at Mumbai for Karnataka and All-India Inter-University Cross Country at Gulbarga for Bangalore University, winning both races in the space of three days. Arun D'Souza, training partner and Indian Railways steeplechaser, won the men's event for the eighth Open Nationals title in a row.

Piyush, Surekha and Bharathi capitalised on the absence of Olympians to perform on demand and projected their potential in a meet heralding the end of the 2004 season. High jumper Sahana Kumari (equalled women's meet mark with 1.81m), Olympian Manjit Kaur (women's 200), seasoned sprinter Anil Kumar (men's 200) and Josemon Mathew (men's 800) were other impressive performers. Jagannath Lakade (men's 5000, 10000) and Sunita Kumari (women's 800, 1500) finished with a distance double. The 44th Open Nationals was organised by the Bombay City District Amateur Athletic Association (BCDAAA) at the Priyadarshini Park. Standard Chartered were the title sponsors, Mid-Day, Ryan International Sports Club and Reliance the platinum sponsors.

The results Women:

100m: 1. Poonam Tomar (Rlys, 11.66s), 2. Rajwinder Kaur (Pol), 3. G. D. Gowremma (Kar). 200m: Manjit Kaur (Pol) 24.47; Iyleen Samantha (AP) 25.11; Rakhi Saha (Rlys) 25.48. 400m: Satti Geetha (Rlys) 53.81s; Rupinder Kaur (Rlys) 56.14; Bindu Rani (Kar) 56.94. 800m: Sunita Kumari (Rlys) 2:12.46; Tejinder Kaur (Pun) 2:13.05; Pinki Pramanik (Rlys) 2:13.64. 1500m: Sunita Kumari (Rlys, 4:35.14), Sinimol Paulose (Steel Plants), S. Shanthi (TN). 5000m: Preeja Sridharan (Rlys) 17:43.72; Madhuri Gurnule (LIC) 17:56.88; Rupinder Kaur (Pun) 18:12.24. 10km run: L. Aruna Devi (Rlys) 37:30.42; Pushpa Devi (Rlys) 37:57.43; Vaishali Chitre (Mah) 39:21.72. 20km walk: Y. Bala Devi (Rlys) 1:51:14.9; L. Deepmala Devi (Rlys) 1:54:32.9; V. Saraswathi (AP) 1:57:36.7. 100m hurdles: Soma Biswas (Rlys) 14.24s; Amita Sethi (Ori) 14.44; G. G. Pramila (Rlys) 14.79. 400m hurdles: Babita Choudhary (Rlys) 58.05; Pinki Pramanik (Rlys) 59.95; Roselin Arokia Mary (Rlys) 1:00.75. 3000m steeplechase: B. L. Bharathi (Kar) 11:07.13 (NMR); Vinita Thakur (Pun) 11:18.98; S. Shanthi (TN) 11:19.67. Javelin: Megha Pardeshi (Rlys) 51.70m, Manisha Mondol (Rlys), Suman Devi (Rlys). Shot put: N. Latha (Rlys, 15.10m), Saroj Sihag (Pol), Chaitali Paul (Rlys). Discus: Neelam Singh (Rlys) 57.21m, Krishna Punia (Rlys) 55.24, Manmeet Bains (Rlys) 46.46. High jump: Sahana Kumari (Rlys) 1.81m (EMR), Sarita Kumari (Mah) 1.74, Tessymol Joseph (Rlys) 1.68. Long jump: G. G. Pramila (Rlys) 6.12m, Ruta Patkar (Rly) 5.98, 3. Ponny George (Ker) 5.69. Triple jump: Tincy Philip (Ker) 12.68m, Tessymol Joseph (Rlys) 12.58, Lekha Roy (LIC) 12.56. Pole vault: V. S. Surekha (Rlys) 3.55m (National Record, old 3.51m), Shail Tiwari (Rlys) 3.30, Deepa Choudhary (Del) and Tapsi Nandi (Rlys) 3.00. Heptathlon: Sushmita Singh Roy (Rlys) 4731 pts, Rose Mary Anthony (Ker) 4358. 4x400 relay: cancelled.

Men:

100m: Piyush Kumar (Rlys) 10.45, Sandeep Sarkaria (Del) 10.57, B. G. Nagaraj (Kar) 10.66. 200m: Anil Kumar Prakash (Ser) 21.23, Piyush Kumar (Rlys) 21.52, B. G. Nagaraj (Kar) 21.62. 400m: Satish Paul (Ser) 47.82, P. Shankar (AP) 48.30, P. S. Sreejith (Ker) 48.44. 800m: Josemon Mathew (Ser) 1:50.74, P. S. Primesh (LIC) 1:51.41, S. J. Sohesh (Ser) 1:51.65. 1500m: C. Hamza (Ser) 3:57.56, 2. Sunil Kumar Singh (Har) 3:58.23, Mahendra Banka Prasad (Ser) 3:58.63. 5000m: Jagannath Lakade (Ser) 14:44.39, Deepachand Mohan Singh (Ser) 14:45.68, S. Raghunath (TN) 14:48.88. 10,000m: Jagannath Lakade (Ser) 30:45.83, Deepachand Mohan Singh (Ser) 30:47.71, Mukesh Kumar Yadav (UP) 31:04.40. 20km walk: Vijaykumar Gehlot (Rlys) 1:33:01, Sitaram Mangi Lal (Ser) 1:33:14, Sree Ram (Rlys) 1:35:37. 110m hurdles: Krishna Mohan (Ser) 14:83, P. V. Augustin (Rlys) 14.94, R. Mathew (Ser) 15.06. 400m hurdles: P. Shankar (AP) 51.62, Ranjodh Singh (Pun) 52.64, Kiran Prasad (Ker) 52.69. 3000m steeplechase: Arun D'Souza (Rlys) 9:10.57, Ranjeeth Kumar (Ser) 9:15.18, C. D. Basuraj (Mah) 9:28.14. High jump: Benedict Starley (Rlys) 2.10, Lorens Louis (Ser) 2.09, K. R. Roshan (LIC) 2.09. Long jump: Maha Singh (Rlys) 7.50m, Rajesh Babu (All-India Police) 7.38, Ashok Kumar (TN) 7.33. Triple jump: Amarjit Singh (Pol) 15.97 (+3.0); Sushant Bangera (Mah) 15.59; K. Naveen (Ker) 15.58. Pole vault: Gajanan Upadhyay (Rlys) 4.70, P. P. Jayakumar (Ser) 4.50, Jagbir Singh (Rlys) and Ranjith Kumar (TN) both 4.40. Discus: Sukhveer Singh (Pun) 55.14, Gursewak Singh (Pun) 54.53, Amritpal Singh Sr (Pun) 54.04. Hammer: Harpal Singh (Pol) 60.33, Rakesh Kumar (Pol) 59.59, Madhu Kumar (Rlys) 59.57. Javelin: Gajendra Kumar (Rlys) 74.75, Anik Kumar (Del) 74.70; Om Narayan (Rlys) 71.82. Shot put: Ranvijay Singh (UP) 18.69, Jaivir Singh (Ser) 18.43, Shakti Singh (Rlys) 18.06. Decathlon: Kulwinder Singh (Ser) 7081 pts, P. J. Vinod (Steel Plants) 7038, Victor Singh (Rlys) 6506. 4x100 relay: Indian Railways 40.63, Services 41.51, All-India Police 42.20. 4x400m relay: Services 3:13.97; Railways 3:17.04, Delhi 3:17.89.

Team championships: Overall: 1. Indian Railways (338 pts); 2. Services (150 pts). Men: 1. Services; 2. Rlys. Women: 1. Rlys; 2. All India Police.