Javelin thrower Shivpal Singh is in a hurry to make up for lost time. After seeing his doping ban reduced from four years to one, the 2019 Asian silver medallist returned to competition early this year.
The 28-year-old struck gold for the first time this season in the 37th National Games at the Bambolim Athletics Stadium when he finished top of a talented field, which included Asian Games silver medallist Kishore Kumar Jena and Asian runner-up D.P. Manu.
While Jena, fifth in the world list this year and second-best Indian ever with his 87.54m, which came in the recent Hangzhou Asian Games, failed to cross 80m, Shivpal touched 81.17m in his fourth effort for the title. Manu took the silver with 80.48, while Jena was third (78.47m).
“I want to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics in the first meet next season just like I qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in South Africa in March 2020,” said Shivpal. “I’m only focusing on myself, how to get back to top form, not on what others are doing.”
Jena was not unhappy. “This has been a long season, so this result is okay,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gujarat’s Dhaval Utekar jolted National Open champion Nikhil Bharadwaj in the 400m hurdles for his maiden national-level title.
“I was surprised that I was all alone after about the first 100m,” said Nikhil, who hopes that his performance here will take him back to the national camp, along with proper training and diet.
Gujarat’s Sunil Joliya Jinabhai set the lone meet on the final day of athletics here, bettering the previous record by six seconds for a personal best time in the men’s 3000m steeple chase.
Vithya Ramraj cruised to the women’s 400m hurdles gold, her second individual title at the Games here, and later helped Tamil Nadu to the 4x400m mixed relay gold. 16-year-old Pooja won the women’s high jump and in the process, made the cut for next year’s under-20 World Championships in Peru (entry standard 1.80m).
In swimming, five of the day’s seven events produced Games records.
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