Punjab gives a good show

ABHIJIT SEN GUPTA

THE cycling events of the 32nd National Games which were conducted at the newly built velodrome within the Osmania University campus saw some good performances from Punjab cyclists. The state has dominated this discipline for several years and indications are that it will continue to do so as long as top-class cyclists such as national 1000-metre time trial record holder Kulbir Singh, Sarabjit Singh, Sukhjinder Singh and others are in competition.

Likewise in the women's category, Manipur put up the best performance. In the women's competitions Manipur has several strong cyclists such as O. Bina Kumari Devi, Romeshwari Devi and others who have made the state one of the best in the country.

On the opening day the Punjab quartet set up a new games record in the 1500 metre team time trial by clocking 1m 42.150s. The quartet comprised Kulbir Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Sarabjit Singh and Sukhjinder Singh. The old record stood in the name of Railways at 1m 42.000s.

Punjab's Kulbir Singh put up a commendable performance in the championships. The tall and strong 24 year old employee of Punjab Police remained unbeaten in his pet event, the 1000 metre individual time trial, which he has dominated for the last couple of years at the national level.

The next day Sarabjit Singh of Punjab smashed the National and Games record in the 4000 metres individual pursuit in a time of 5m 1.010s. Manipur women also did well by making a clean sweep of the medals in the 3000 metre individual pursuit. N. Choba Devi was first with a new record time of 14m 18.180s while statemates, Bina Kumari Devi and Romeshwari Devi took silver and bronze respectively.

Ch. Romeshwari Devi later won the women's 20 km individual time trial on the penultimate day. The men's 30 km individual time trial was won by Sandeep Kumar Malik of the Indian Air Force. Malik who is an experienced international has won medals in SAARC championships earlier and also won a gold in the national championship conducted in Hyderabad recently.

On the final day the 120 km road race saw a hard fought battle being won by Nijappa Yentethu of AP who gave the home state its first cycling gold of the National Games. The 22 year old Railway employee dedicated his win to the help he received from his teammates. Just a fraction of a second separated the first three indicating the closeness of the contest. Nijappa clocked 3 hrs, 13 minutes and 26.964 seconds while second placed Mahender Reddy also from AP clocked 3 hours, 13 mins and 26.965 seconds. Third placed Jefferson Singh of Manipur timed 3 hrs, 13 mins 26.968 seconds.

The results:

Men: 1500m team time trial: 1. Punjab 1m 42.150s (NGR) (OR 1m 44.00s) 2. Manipur; 3. SSCB. 1000m sprint: 1. Pavittar Singh (Punjab) 12.285s; 2. Ramninder Singh (Punjab) 3. Vishnu Chand (Kerala). 4000m individual pursuit: 1. Sarabjit Singh (Punjab) 5m 1.010s; 2. Sandeep Kumar Malik (SCB); 3. Zorawar Singh (SSCB).

30 km individual trial: 1. Sandeep Kumar Malik (SSCB) 41m 59.842s; 2. Sarabjit Singh (Punjab); 3. Nijappa Yentethu (AP). 70 km team time trial: 1. Punjab (Hitraj Singh, Sarabjit Singh, Sukhjinder Singh, Gurupreet Singh) 1 hr 21 min 41.350s; 2. AP (Nijappa, Sai Krishna, Vijay Singh Rajput, Hirekurbar); 3. Services (Sandeep Kumar Malik, Zorawar Singh, Dharmendar Singh and B.S. Sudhakar). 120 km road race: 1. Nijappa Yentethu (AP) 3 hrs 13min 26.964s; 2. Mahender Reddy (AP); 3. Jefferson Singh (Manipur).

Women:

1000m sprint: 1. V. Rajani (Kerala) 13.791s; 2. Geetanjali Devi (Manipur); 3. Goutami Devi (Manipur). 3000m individual pursuit: 1. Choba Devi (Manipur) 4m 18.180s; 2. O. Bina Kumari Devi (Manipur); 3. Romeshwari Devi (Manipur).

20 km individual time trial: Romeshwari Devi (Manipur) 30m 58.480s; 2. Premala Sureban (AP); 3. Gangu Biradar (Karnataka). 50 km mass start: 1. O. Bina Kumari Devi (Manipur) 1 hr 55 min 38.190s; 2. Premala Sureban (AP); 3. V. Ishwarya (AP).