Six national records

G. Mounica... a sterling show in the 200 metres.-S. JAMES

As usual, the athletes braved the official ineptitude and the sweltering heat to put up a fabulous show. In the end, it was Punjab, which went on to bag the overall championship (based on the number of gold medals). K. Keerthivasan reports.

G. Mounica, a 16-year-old, was inconsolable after having been disqualified from the 400m for a false start on the first day of the S.S. Music-National youth athletics championships at the MGR Stadium in Madurai.

The immensely talented lass, who comes from a well-to-do family from Hyderabad, put the disappointment behind her with a sterling performance in the 200m with a record-breaking run in 24.88 seconds, erasing the mark of Chitra K. Soman (25.00s).

He knew nothing about pole vault, literally, till about two years ago. Parminder Kumar Patel, son of a farmer in Allahabad district, learnt the sport from his brother Arvind Kumar in his village. And in a short span of one year, he has performed exceptionally well in many National age-group meets. In Madurai, Parminder vaulted 4.30m, breaking the record held by Virender Singh of Gujarat (4.20m).

Ankit Sharma of Madhya Pradesh, the son of a Sanskrit professor in Government Arts College (Agra), rewrote the record books, leaping to 7.41m in long jump in his penultimate effort. He surpassed the record held by Sudhir Kumar of Haryana (7.33m).

Each of the three athletes comes from different economic backgrounds, but what unites them is their desire to make it big someday. The three-day National youth under-18 meet at the MGR Stadium was full of such teenagers (between 15 and 18) who showed their keenness to break through the clutter.

While the athletes covered themselves with glory, the Madurai District Athletics Association didn’t exactly put its best foot forward. The Uttar Pradesh team with 56 members didn’t get accommodation for nearly 21 hours after landing in Madurai. The team’s coach, Jaiswal, was furious. There were complaints of poor toilet facilities and lack of good drinking water. Add to that, most of the events were postponed on the very first day.

It was later learnt that the MDAA didn’t have many of the equipments needed to get the meet going, like starting blocks for sprints, hurdles for steeplechase, nets for field events such as shot put, discus and javelin throw. It was left to C. K. Valson, Technical Director, Athletics Federation of India, and N. Annavi, Technical Co-ordinator for the championships, to use their good offices to get the equipments from Chennai and Delhi.

It left a lot of questions unanswered. While everybody knew about the National youth meet months in advance, why did the MDAA have to wait till the last minute to realise that it didn’t have the basic equipments for a National championship? What happened to the equipments that were at the MDAA’s disposal?

As usual, the athletes braved the official ineptitude and the sweltering heat to put up a fabulous show. In the end, it was Punjab, which went on to bag the overall championship (based on the number of gold medals). Kerala finished second, while UP came third. With just six athletes in its ranks, Punjab gobbled up six gold and four silver medals. Six National and seven meet records were created in the meet. Punjab’s Gurwant Singh (national record holder in shot put with a distance of 18.20m) and Mounica were declared the best boy and girl athletes of the championships.

OVERALL CHAMPIONS

1. Punjab (6 golds, 4 silvers and 0 bronze) 2. Kerala (5, 7, 8) 3. U. P. (5, 3, 4)

BOYS 1. U. P. (5, 3, 3) 2. Punjab (4, 4, 0) GIRLS 1. Kerala (5, 5, 4) 2. Tamil Nadu (2, 3, 5).