Siddhanth proves his mettle

Sahana Kumari in action in the women's high jump. The Railway athlete cleared 1.83m for the meet record.-PICS: SUSHANTA PATRONOBISH

The ONGC athlete from Mumbai rewrote the men's high hurdles National record with a scorching run to clock 13.77s. S. Sabanayakan reports.

Conducted almost at the end of the season, the blue riband of Indian athletics, the Open National meet, will be remembered for several reasons. The four-day meet — conducted by the West Bengal Athletics Association under the aegis of the Athletic Federation of India — at the Salt Lake Stadium and SAI Complex in Kolkata, can perhaps be considered one of the cleanest going by the performance of the athletes in the 43 events.

The National Anti Doping Agency was very active during the championship, collecting nearly 70 to 80 samples to keep up the drive against the biggest menace in the world of sport — the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

On the field, the best showing was the National record established by the 20-year-old collegian, Siddhanth Thingalaya, in the men's high hurdles. The tall ONGC athlete from Mumbai, supported by the Mittal Champions Trust, produced a scorching run to clock 13.77s which enabled him to improve up on his own mark of 13.81s set a year ago at the Patiala Inter-State meet.

The Asian junior champion in Hanoi — where he clocked 13.96s to win the gold — went under 14 seconds thrice in two years and is set to clear the Olympic ‘B' standard qualification mark of 13.68s by early next year. “My stint with the Aussie coach, Sharon Hannan, in Brisbane has been extremely beneficial and I am hopeful of achieving my target early next year,” said Siddhanth.

In the women's section, triple jumper Mayookha Johny (ONGC) and high jumper Sahana Kumari (Railways) set meet records.

Mayookha, who has already attained the Olympic ‘B' norm in triple jump, powered to 13.71m. She, thus, improved upon her own mark of 13.54m set at the Kochi Nationals two years ago.

Veteran Sahana too improved upon her mark of 1.82m set in Jamshedpur in 2007 with an effort of 1.83m.

Mayookha Johny…a grand double, winning the women's long jump and triple jump events.-

There were also two rare happenings, one on the track and the other at the jumping pit. Perhaps for the first time in India, a dead-heat was witnessed in the men's 400m hurdles where two Railway runners, Satinder Singh and Avin A. Thomas, clocked an identical 51.49s. The photo-finish camera failed to separate the two even by 1/1000th of a second!

Clarifying the decision to award gold medals to both the runners, C. K. Valson, chairman, technical committee of the AFI, said that it conformed to the rule that was amended during the 2010 Berlin World Championship.

Even before the incident could sink in on the penultimate day, there came another tied result in the men's high jump, where both C. Nikhil Chittarasu (Tamil Nadu) and Harishankar Roy (Railways) cleared 2.16m. Normally, to break a tie, the system of count-back is used, but in this case even that failed to identify the winner. So, both Chittarasu and Roy were awarded the gold.

In yet another rare happening, four athletes made a clean sweep of three major events in the same year. Women's high hurdler M. M. Anchu (Railways), triple jumper Arpinder Singh (Punjab), Harvinder Singh Dagar (Uttar Pradesh) in the men's hammer throw and Harwant Kaur (ONGC) in the women's discus won gold medals in the National Games, Inter-State Championship and the Open Nationals.

Four other athletes also achieved a “double” at the meet. They were: Bengal's debutante Asha Roy (women's 100m and 200m), Asian champion Mayookha Johny (long jump and triple jump), Sajeesh Joseph (Railways; 800m and 1500m) and S. Saraswathy (Railways; shot put and javelin).

THE WINNERS

Siddhanth Thingalaya,who won the men's 110m hurdles in record time.-

Men — 100m: Manish (Haryana) 10.60s. 200m: M. G. Joseph (Services) 21.28s. 400m: Kunhu Mohammad (Services) 47.09s. 800m: Sajeesh Joseph (Railways) 1:50.28. 1500m: Sajeesh Joseph (Railways) 3:54.59s. 5000m: Pritam Bind (ONGC) 14:23.18s. 10000m: Suresh Kumar (ONGC) 30:18.16s. 3000m SC: R. Ramachandran (TN) 8:45.70s. 110m hurdles: Siddhanth Thingalaya (ONGC) 13.77s (NR; Old: 13.81s by Siddhanth, 2010). 400m hurdles: Satinder Singh (Railways) and Avin A. Thomas (Railways) 51.49s. High jump: C. Nikhil Chittarasu (TN) and Harishankar Roy (Railways) 2.16m. Pole vault: K. P. Bimin (Railways) 4.95m. Long jump: Ritish Kumar (Services) 7.70m. Triple jump: Arpinder Singh (Punjab) 16.63m. Shot put: Om Prakash Singh (ONGC) 19.45m. Discus: Vipender Singh (Services) 50.52m. Hammer: Harvinder Singh Dagar (ONGC) 63.37m. Javelin: Rajendra Singh (Railways) 75.74m. Decathlon: Vijay Kumar (Haryana) 7106 points. 20km walk: Surinder Singh (Punjab) 1:29:03.90s. 4x100m relay: Railways (Balamurugan, Ritesh Anand, P. Muthuswami & B. G. Nagraj) 41.30s. 4x400m relay: Services (R. K. George, Jibin S., Kunhu Mohammad & Sk. Murtaja) 3:10.02s.

Women — 100m: Asha Roy (Bengal) 11.85s. 200m: Asha Roy (Bengal) 24.36s. 400m: M. R. Poovamma (Karnataka) 53.87s. 800m: S. R. Bindu (Railways) 2:08.40s. 1500m: O. P. Jaisha (Railways) 4:15.88s. 5000m: Kavita Raut (ONGC) 16:46.40s. 10000m: Preeja Sreedharan (Railways) 35:56.09. 100m hurdles: M. M. Anchu (Railways) 13.90s. 400m hurdles: Bhupinder Kaur (Punjab) 1:00.64s. High jump: Sahana Kumari (Railways) 1.83m (NMR; Old: 1.82m by Sahana, 2007). Pole vault: K. K. Anoosha (Kerala) 3.40m. Long jump: Mayookha Johny (ONGC) 6.54m. Triple jump: Mayookha Johny (ONGC) 13.71m (NMR; Old: 13.54m by Mayookha, 2008). Shot put: S. Saraswathy (Railways) 13.23m. Discus: Harwant Kaur (ONGC) 53.59m. Hammer: Manju Bala (Railways) 56.71m. Javelin: S. Saraswathy (Railways) 49.05. Heptathlon: K. D. Sindhu (MP) 4958 pts. 20km walk: Khushbir Kaur (Punjab) 1:45:38.18s. 4x100m relay: Railways (N. Sudha, S. Geetha, Priya P. K. & Arjina Khatun) 47.26s. 4x400m relay: Kerala (Albymol K. V., Arya C., C. S. Sindhyamol and Anu R.) 3:50.77s.

Overall champion: Railways. Best athlete — men: Arpinder Singh (Punjab) 1115 points; Women: Mayookha Johny (ONGC) 1104 points.

Medals tally (read as gold, silver, bronze): 1. Railways 17-13-8; 2. ONGC 8-5-4; 3. Services 5-7-8; 4. Punjab 4-0-2; 5. Tamil Nadu 2-4-0; 6. Bengal 2-3-2.