Sunita falls short of National record

AROUND this time last year, there were at least 15 Indian athletes in the top-50 world lists.

K. P. MOHAN

Sunita Rani leading the bunch close to the finish of the women's 10,000m. Beant Kaur and Preeja Sreedharan took the silver and bronze respectively.-RAJEEV BHATT

AROUND this time last year, there were at least 15 Indian athletes in the top-50 world lists. This year, with the season well underway, only eight have made it after one National throws meet and three National circuit meets. According to the Athletics Federation of India, last year ended with 21 Indian athletes in the top 50 of the world lists. Staggering statistical piece of information though it does not get reflected in medals at the global level.

World lists should not be confused with world rankings. Lists are solely dependent on recorded per<147,1,7>formance, whether at the national level or international level. Rankings are based on performance as well as the rating of a competition.

Discus throwers Neelam Singh(left), Krishna Poonia andSeema Antil who finished 1-2-3in both the meets.-RAJEEV BHATT

The fall in performance levels this season has been rather disturbing for the federation and there is no logical explanation for the sudden slump in standards, say in women's discus or women's quarter mile. The heat factor could be one of the reasons, but last year in April, there were several top-class performances in meets in Northern India. Maybe this is an expected decline after such a `high' in the Olympic year. Or may be the athletes have prepared less this season, with not much importance being given to the participation in the World championships. But then an Asian championship also is not far away and the athletes could have been expected to go all out to make an impression.

"World over, throwing standards have slumped steadily for a couple of years now because of stricter dope controls," said a coach the other day. He did not elaborate. It is a moot point whether we have `dope controls' at all in the strictest sense of the term, though the AFI will insist that it does have a dope-testing system in place.

Patiala saw an impressive assault on the women's National record in the 10,000 metres by Sunita Rani. Given the heat and muggy conditions, this was a brave effort though it fell well short of the National record of 34:30.2. Sunita, making sort of a comeback, clocked 34:57.42. The two previous years had been rather uneventful for her. This year she looks determined to re-establish her credentials that took a severe beating when she tested positive for steroid at the Busan Asian Games. Though she was reprieved, thanks to technicalities, Sunita's name was tarnished by that incident in 2002.

Left: ManjeetKaur (177) just about to win thewomen's 200m from RajwinderKaur (167) and Shareen Timas.-RAJEEV BHATT

Neelam Jaswant Singh touched a season best of 60.65 metres in discus at Patiala. The fast-improving Krishna Poonia had a personal best 58.33, once again pushing National record holder Seema Antil to the bronze position with just 53.85. The placings remained the same at the next stop. Ludhiana, though there was no 60-metre throw. The disturbing aspect has been Seema's poor form.

The male shot putters had a slight fall in standards in Patiala, but Navpreet Singh, coming into competition for the first time this season, putted to a distance of 19.82 metres at Ludhiana, his second best ever performance. Veteran Shakti Singh took the silver behind Navpreet, but the eclipse of Ranvijay Singh, down to fourth place with just 18.14, was a big surprise. Ranvijay had remained unbeaten, through three meets this season, coming up with a best of 19.89 metres in the Salwan throws meet in Delhi to top the season charts.

Chitra Soman winning thewomen's 400m hurdles. SahebaniOram (213) took the bronze.-RAJEEV BHATT

Javelin thrower Jagdish Bishnoi maintained his steady performance through the second and third circuit meets, though he could not reach the 76-metre mark. With Asian standards being in the region of 80 metres, Bishnoi needs to improve considerably in the months ahead if he is to be a medal contender in next year's Asian Games.

A 7.91-metre jump helped Maha Singh join an elite bunch of long jumpers at Patiala. He had a 7.90m jump as well as he won the gold. The 24-year-old Punjab man joined National record holder Amritpal Singh, T. C. Yohannan, Sanjay Kumar Rai, Suresh Babu, P. V. Wilson and Wayne Peppin as the only Indian jumpers to have done 7.90 or better. The top three in the list have crossed 8.00 metres.

H. Jayachandran (left) who wonthe men's 100m in both thelegs.-RAJEEV BHATT

Maha Singh's effort would have been hailed as the most notable of all feats in the domestic meets so far, but for the query that cropped up immediately after he recorded his effort. How come he was in the competition? How was he in the National camp after having tested positive for a steroid in the Indo-Pak Punjab Games in January?

The AFI Secretary, Lalit Bhanot, brushed aside the query by saying that his federation had no intimation regarding the reported positive returned by Maha Singh. The lackadaisical manner in which such dope controls are carried out in Indian meets was once again brought to the fore as mediamen and officials discussed the tests carried out by the organising committee. "`Pass the buck" is a favourite pastime of Indian sports officials. The Sports Ministry quite often forgets its own decisions about `dopers', allowing such athletes to attend camps.

Navpreet Singh, by winning theshot put in Ludhiana, eclipsedRanvijay Singh, who hadremained unbeaten in threemeets.-RAJEEV BHATT

On the track, the quarter-milers, men and women, continued to churn out ordinary timings. Chitra Soman's career-best effort of 57.70 seconds in the 400-metre hurdles at Ludhiana was noteworthy if only for the fact that the intermediate hurdles comes rarely under the <147,4,0>spotlight these days. She won the 400m at Patiala. It is difficult to imagine that Manjeet Kaur had clocked 51.05s last season and has now timed 54.03s (Delhi) and 53.64s (Patiala) in the one-lap event.

Jagdish Bishnoi emergedunbeaten in javelin but couldnot reach the 76m mark.-RAJEEV BHATT

The male 400-metre runners continued to be around 46.7 to 46.8, Satbir Singh and Bhupinder Singh have taken over after the initial flurry by Sarish Paul. Bhupinder had a false-start disqualification in Patiala where he complained that the starter was `holding' the runners too long in the `set' position. He had a reason to feel upset.

Maha Singh's noteworthy effort in the long jump was overshadowed by adope query which cropped up immediately.-RAJEEV BHATT

H. Jayachandran got the better of national champion Piyush Kumar in both the meets in the men's 100 metres while Poonam Tomar won the corresponding race in the women's section, in both legs.

The results: At Patiala:

Men: 100m: 1. H. Jayachandran (LIC) 10.56s, 2. Piyush Kumar (Rly) 10.59, 3. Vishal Saxena (Rly) 10.59; 400m: 1. Satbir Singh (Ser) 46.83s, 2. Sarish Paul (Ser) 47.92, 3. Aboobacker (Ker) 48.15; 1500m: 1. Ghamanda Ram (Ser) 3:52.11, 2. P. S. Primesh (LIC) 3:57.99, 3. Josemon Mathew (Ser) 3:58.04;10,000m: 1. Kuldip Kumar (UP) 30:44.94, 2. Santosh (Rly) 31:04.58, 3. Pritam Bind (Rly) 31:20.93; 3000m steeplechase: 1. Arun D' Souza (Rly) 9:09.67, 2. R. B. Subba (P. Police) 9:12.16, 3. Vikas Singh (UP) 9:17.23; High jump: 1. Anilkumar Chahal ((Rly) 2.16m, 2. Razack Roshan (Ker) 2.05, 3. Dhananjay Rai (Rly) 1.95; Long jump: 1. Maha Singh (Pun) 7.91m, 2. Pushpender Singh (Del) 7.56, 3. Amritpal Singh (Pun) 7.52; Shot put: 1. Ranvijay Singh (UP) 19.23m, 2. Jaiveer Singh (Ser) 18.56, 3. Shakti Singh (Rly) 18.38; Discus: 1. Amritpal Singh (Pun) 52.35m, 2. Sukhbir Sngh (P. Police) 51.39, 3. Simranjit Singh (Pun) 50.71; Hammer: 1. Kulwinder Singh (P. Police) 65.27m, 2. Harpal Singh (P. Police) 63.39, 3. Birkiran Singh (ONGC) 62.98; Javelin: 1. Jagdish Bishnoi (P. Police) 74.18m, 2. Sunil Goswami (Del) 72.03, 3. Gajendra Kumar (Rly) 71.67.

Women: 100m: 1. Poonam Tomar (Rly) 11.62s, 2. Kavita Pandya (Rly) 12.02, 3. K. M. Greeshma (Ker) 12.07; 400m: 1. Chitra K. Soman (Jharkhand) 52.94s, 2. Manjeet Kaur (P. Police) 53.64, 3. Rajwinder Kaur (P. Police) 54.46; 1500m: 1. Sinimol Poulose (Tata Academy) 4:29.31, 2. Sunita Kanojia (Rly) 4:31.62, 3.M. C. Salma (CRPF) 4:37.12; 10,000m: 1. Sunita Rani (P. Police) 34:57.42, 2. Beant Kaur (P. Police) 37:21.18, 3. Preeja Sreedharan (Rly) 37:33.43; Discus: 1. Neelam J. Singh ( (Rly) 60.65, 2. Krishna Poonia (Rly) 58.33, 3. Seema Antil (Har) 53.85; Hammer: 1. Ritu Rani (Del) 56.87m, 2. Ushma Singh (Del) 52.66, 3. Rajwinder Kaur (Pun) 52.55.

At Ludhiana:

Men: 100m: 1. H. Jayachandran (LIC) 10.51s, 2. Piyush Kumar (Rly) 10.52, 3. Vishal Saxena (Rly) 10.57; 200m: 1. Piyush Kumar (Rly) 21.35s, 2. H. Jayachandran (LIC) 21.67, 3.Abhishek Pandey (LIC) 21.76; 400m: 1. Satbir Singh (Ser) 46.71s, 2. Bhupinder Singh (ONGC) 47.09, 3. Saji P. S. (CRPF) 47.64; 800m: 1. Ghamanda Ram (Ser) 1:49.63, 2. P. S. Primesh (LIC) 1:40.21, 3. Suhesh S. J. (Ser) 1:50.67; 400m hurdles: 1. Joseph Abraham (CRPF) 51.36s, 2. P. Shankar (ONGC) 51.94, 3. Kuldev Singh (P. Police) 52.27; Long jump: 1. Maha Singh (Pun) 7.68m, 2. Rajeev Kumar (Rly) 7.44, 3. K. J. Clinton (TN) 7.37; Triple jump: 1. Pritpal Singh (P. Police) 15.70m, 2. Bhupinder Singh (P. Police) 15.69, 3. Saurabh (UP) 14.90; Shot put: 1. Navpreet Singh (P. Police) 19.82m, 2. Shakti Singh (Rly) 18.53, 3. Jaiveer Singh (Ser) 18.25; Hammer: 1. Kulwinder Singh (P. Police) 64.43m, 2. Harpal Singh (P. Police) 63.64, 3. Madhu Kumar (Rly) 61.44; Javelin: 1. Jagdish Bishnoi (P. Police) 75.44m, 2. Sunil Goswami (Del) 72.77, 3. Gurkirat Singh (P. Police) 72.18.

Women: 100m: 1. Poonam Tomar (Rly) 11.60s, 2. K. M. Greeshma (Ker) 11.97, 3. Mandeep Kaur (Pun) 12.20; 200m: 1. Manjeet Kaur (P. Police) 23.92s, 2. Rajwinder Kaur (Pun) 23.95, 3. Shareen Timas (Ker) 26.06; 800m: 1. Sunita Kanojia (Rly) 2:07.34, 2. Sinimol Poulose (Tata Academy) 2:07.95, 3. Stapa Das (Ben) 2:11.26; 400m hurdles: 1. Chitra K. Soman (Rly) 57.70s, 2. Baljeet Kaur (Rly) 61.08, 3, Sahebani Oram (Rly) 63.04; Discus: 1. Neelam J. Singh (Rly) 59.24m, 2. Krishna Poonia (Rly) 54.99, 3. Seema Antil (Har) 54.37; Hammer: 1. Ritu Rani (Del) 54.60m, 2. Ushma Singh (Del) 54.01, 3. Archana Bara (Bih) 53.15.