Reduced to a mere ritual

INDIAN athletics continued to grope for quality and answers as the final circuit meet in the National calendar was gone through at the NIS, Patiala.

K. P. MOHAN

Neelam J. Singh won the women's discus throw with her second best effort at home this season. -- Pic. V. SUDERSHAN- INDIAN athletics continued to grope for quality and answers as the final circuit meet in the National calendar was gone through at the NIS, Patiala. Having been billed as the last trials before the team for the Afro-Asian Games was picked, one would have expected a more enthusiastic participation and keener contests. But that was not to be. The old indifference towards domestic meets is back and since places in the Indian teams for major internationals are not being contested much nowadays, the apathy leads to many empty lanes and mediocre competition. The Patiala meet was a classic example. There were a few exceptions in Patiala who at least tried to do their best, though failing to do so in the eventual analysis. Since she has gone well past the 60-metre mark and her National record stands at 64.55m, Neelam J. Singh's 59-plus efforts are often dismissed as routine. She had a 59.75, despite being troubled by an old, recurring injury. This was her second best effort at home this season behind her 61.17 at the Bangalore Open. It was as good as build-up as any for the Afro-Asian Games, but the Hoshiarpur woman was concerned about her injury that keeps coming back. Saraswati Saha, in only her second competition of the season, clocked a creditable 11.73s for the 100m dash. In a season where the sprinters have generally struggled to find their old form, for yet-to-be explained reasons, Saraswati is finding it easy to win titles. Her 11.70s at Bangalore Open and the latest timing have, however, come as surprises from one who has been off competition for nearly a year. Poonam Tomar's season best of 11.91 fetched her the silver while Greeshamma K. M. had the bronze in 12.15 secs.

INDIAN athletics continued to grope for quality and answers as the final circuit meet in the National calendar was gone through at the NIS, Patiala. Having been billed as the last trials before the team for the Afro-Asian Games was picked, one would have expected a more enthusiastic participation and keener contests. But that was not to be.

The old indifference towards domestic meets is back and since places in the Indian teams for major internationals are not being contested much nowadays, the apathy leads to many empty lanes and mediocre competition. The Patiala meet was a classic example.

There were a few exceptions in Patiala who at least tried to do their best, though failing to do so in the eventual analysis. Since she has gone well past the 60-metre mark and her National record stands at 64.55m, Neelam J. Singh's 59-plus efforts are often dismissed as routine. She had a 59.75, despite being troubled by an old, recurring injury. This was her second best effort at home this season behind her 61.17 at the Bangalore Open. It was as good as build-up as any for the Afro-Asian Games, but the Hoshiarpur woman was concerned about her injury that keeps coming back.

Saraswati Saha, in only her second competition of the season, clocked a creditable 11.73s for the 100m dash. In a season where the sprinters have generally struggled to find their old form, for yet-to-be explained reasons, Saraswati is finding it easy to win titles. Her 11.70s at Bangalore Open and the latest timing have, however, come as surprises from one who has been off competition for nearly a year. Poonam Tomar's season best of 11.91 fetched her the silver while Greeshamma K. M. had the bronze in 12.15 secs.

Sarswati Saha in only her second competition of the season clocked a creditable 11.73s to claim the 100m from Poonam Tomar (224) and Greeshamma (221). -- Pic. V. SUDERSHAN-

Since K. M. Beenamol has been out of action through the season because of a toe injury, the standards in the women's quarter mile have remained ordinary. Still, Jincy Philip winning the title from her younger opponents, even though in a poor 54.30, was noteworthy. Jincy, after her marriage to 400m runner P. Ramachandran, had come back into competition only at the Open in Bangalore where she finished second. This time, she got the better of a few juniors who had made quite an impression earlier in the season, S. Geetha, Pinki Parmanik and Kalpana Reddy. Another youngster, Iyleen Samantha showed tremendous improvement from her early season range of 58-plus seconds to clock 54.63s for the fourth place. Yet, the level that is required to form a formidable 4x400m relay team in time for the Athens Olympics is just not there in the women's section though we do have the nucleus.

Nor is it there in the men's quarter mile. K. J. Manojlal showed his consistency by winning in 46.52s while Bhupinder Singh and Ramachandran followed him, in 47.23s and 47.43s respectively. No one except Manojlal looks poised to clock a sub-46 at the moment. And that is rather disappointing in the context of forming a relay team.

Without K. M. Binu in the fray, the 800m was not going to produce the kind of contest and timings that could count towards the build-up for the Afro-Asian Games. P. S. Primesh won in an ordinary 1:51.72. Binu, down with malaria at the time of the Asian championships, was back home in Kerala, recuperating.

It is disturbing that the standards in the men's middle and long distance events have stagnated for long. Gulab Chand has ploughed a lonely furrow in recent times, though without much success. He won the 5000m this time, in an ordinary 14:42.90. The opposition was minimal, with no one prepared to push the pace. Nor did anyone try to match Gulab's `kick' from about 200 metres to the finish. Steeplechaser Arun D' Souza made a feeble attempt while Aman Saini looked totally out of form to even make a token challenge.

Jincy Philip (226) winning the 400m from S. Geetha (227) and Pinki Parmanik. -- Pic. V. SUDERSHAN-

Though sprinting standards have also hit a plateau, Sanjay Ghosh's 10.45s, his best in a final this season, was a fine effort in the 100m. Piyush Kumar and Sandeep Sarkaria, edged the youngster Vilas Nalgunde, who beat them in Bangalore, to take the minor medals. The No. 1 sprinter in the country, Anil Kumar, was recovering from fever in Bangalore.

Naunidh Singh once again showed that he was the man in form in the 110m hurdles, beating National record holder Gurpreet Singh. His 14.37s was, however, well below the 14.12s he clocked in the Open. Gurpreet, returning from an injury, was not too disappointed with his effort and felt that he could be fully ready and back in top form next season.

Another man who has been struggling with injuries for more than a year, long jumper Sanjay Kumar Rai, notched up a season best by reaching 7.76m.

Naunidh Singh right) beat National record holder Gurpreet Singh in the men's 110m hurdles. Pic. V. SUDERSHAN-

Prone to injuries throughout his career that has seen him touch eight metres twice, Rai is determined to make a comeback. The man in the news, Wayne Peppin, the Tamil Nadu youngster, however, disappointed with a leap of 7.43. Shiv Shankar Yadav's 7.75m, just a centimetre short of the gold-winning mark, was noteworthy.

Shakti Singh won the battle of wits with Bahadur Singh. Both have dominated the shot put scene at home for so long that it has become a habit for them to occupy the top two places in almost every meet. Shakti's winning put of 18.95, against Bahadur's 18.83, was not bad at all following his season best 19.04 in the Asian meet at Manila.

In the women's section, with many of the top stars absent, the focus remained on Neelam J. Singh. Thus, J. J. Shobha's personal best of 6.36m in long jump almost went unnoticed. Shobha took the silver in the 100m hurdles, too, behind the promising Tamil Nadu girl, K. N. Priya, in a photo-finish both being credited 14.05s. The frail-looking Priya is a bright prospect for the years ahead.

The results: Men:

100m: `A' race: 1. Sanjay Ghosh 10.45, 2. Piyush Kumar 10.57, 3. Sandeep Sarkaria 10.67, 4. Vilas Nalgunde 10.69, 5. C.Thirugnanadurai 10.74, 6. Amit Saha 10.74. `B' race: 1. Abhishek Pandey 10.73, 2. Parameshwar 10.80, 3. Arshad Hussain 10.96.

400m: `A' Race: 1. K. J. Manojlal 46.52, 2. Bhupinder Singh 47.23, 3. P. Ramachandran 47.43, 4. P. Shankar 47.52, 5. Anil Kumar Rohil 47.54, 6. Satbir Singh 48.07. `B' race: 1. Gurjinder Singh 48.44, 2. Shiv Pratap 48.67, 3. Sangh Priya 48.75.

800m: 1. P. S. Primesh 1:51.72, 2. Ghamanda Ram 1:51.81, 3. S. J. Suhesh 1:51.87, 4. P. J. Robin 1:52.74, 5. K. A. Jaya Kumar 1:54.05, 6. Munir 1:55.49. 5000m: 1. Gulab Chand 14:42.90, 2. Arun D'Souza 14:43.95, 3. I. A.Shivananda 14:45.03, 4. Mukesh Yadav 14:49.54, 5. Aman Saini 15:20.69, 6. Vijay Nath Yadav 16:07.48.

110m hurdles: 1. Naunidh Singh 14.37, 2. Gurpreet Singh 14.43, 3. Prasad Reddy 14.73, 4. Gurinder Pal Singh 15.06, 5. Diljot Singh 15.17, 6. Rajesh Kumar 15.90. Long jump: 1. Sanjay Kumar Rai 7.76 , 2. Shiv Shankar Yadav 7.75, 3. Maha Singh 7.65, 4. Wayne Peppin 7.43 , 5. S. Ramachandran 7.25, 6. P. J. Vinod 7.22 (-0.3).

Shakti Singh's winning effort of 18.95 compared well with his season best 19.04 in the Manila Asian meet. -- Pic. V. SUDERSHAN-

Triple jump: 1. Amarjeet Singh 15.73, 2. K. C. Saintson 15.52 , 3. Bhupinder Singh 15.23, 4. Pritpal Singh 14.96, 5. Pushpinder Singh 14.15. Shot put: 1. Shakti Singh 18.95, 2. Bahadur Singh 18.83, 3. Navpreet Singh 18.62, 4. Kulwinder Singh 17.50, 5. Gurpreet Singh 16.87, 6. Malkhan Singh 15.26.

Discus: 1. Anil Kumar 54.80, 2. Gursewak Singh 52.02, 3. Devender Singh 51.68, 4. Jagjit Singh 50.96, 5. Sukhbir Singh 50.91, 6. Amardeep Singh 49.91.

Javelin: 1. Jagdish Bishnoi 73.45, 2. Harminder Singh 71.90, 3. Avtar Singh 71.28, 4. Kasinath 68.68, 5. Fazal Ansari 67.56, 6. Manohar Singh 66.70.

Women:

100m: 1. Saraswati Saha 11.73, 2. Poonam Tomar 11.91, 3. Greeshamma K. M. 12.15, 4. Rakhi Saha 12.47, 5. H. M. Jyothi 12.67. 400m: 1. Jincy Philip 54.30, 2. S. Geetha 54.34, 3. Pinki Parmanik 54.60, 4. Iyleen Samantha 54.63, 5. Rajwinder Kaur 54.67, 6. Kalpana Reddy 54.89.

1500m: 1. Sunita Kanojia 4:32.50, 2. Ramla Devi 4:37.59, 3. L. Aruna Devi 4:38.34, 4. Abha Rai 4:41.49, 5. Kavita Pant 4:48.35.

Sanjay Kumar Rai, who has been struggling with injuries, took the long jump gold with a season best 7.76m. -- Pic. V. SUDERSHAN-

100m hurdles: 1. K. N. Priya 14.05, 2. J. J. Shobha 14.05, 3. Soma Biswas 14.36, 4. Pawandeep Kaur 17.32.

Hammer: 1. Hardeep Kaur 56.48, 2. Alka Pandey 52.49, 3. Rajwinder Kaur 52.12, 4. Ritu Rani 44.58, 5. Amandeep Kaur 36.31.

Long jump: 1. J. J. Shobha 6.36, 2. Soma Biswas 6.15, 3. P. S. Bindu 5.91, 4. Jetty C. Joseph 5.83. Discus: 1. Neelam J. Singh 59.75, 2. Harwant Kaur 52.52, 3. Swaranjeet Kaur 50.59, 4. Seema Antil 49.55, 5. Krishna Poonia 47.90, 6. Gurpreet Kaur 33.85.