National Open Athletics: Services clinch the title

Malkit Singh's 16.57 metres jump was enough to power him past both national record holder Arpinder Singh, who finished a lowly eighth, and meet record holder Renjith Maheshwari, who had to settle for a bronze.

Record holder Renjith Maheshwari had to settle for a bronze.   -  R. Ragu

Malkit Singh wanted to win a medal in his return to competition after a four-year hiatus but wasn't sure he would be able to. The men's triple jump at the 56th National Open Athletics Championships here was the only one with decent competition and the Services athlete knew it wouldn't be easy.

In the end, his 16.57 metres jump was enough to power him past both national record holder Arpinder Singh, who finished a lowly eighth, and meet record holder Renjith Maheshwari, who had to settle for a bronze.

“I have been training for the last 11 months and the only reason I did so was because my coach Ibrar sir had faith in me. I wanted to do well here since I have not participated in the competition for ages but I was not very confident of gold,” Malkit said.

Having broken a tendon in his left ankle four years ago, Malkit had given up all hope of recovery and competing again. “I had given up training, developed a pot-belly and was content leading a regular life away from sports. It was only at the insistence of my coach and the Services sports in-charge that I got back on the track. That's why this win feels all the more special,” a beaming Malkit added.

That he had four fouls out of his six jumps was no deterrent. “It had nothing to do with my jump or technique but the run-up. There were too many similar marks near the start and I got confused on where my mark was, which upset the rhythm. But that doesn't matter now,” he said.

Arpinder, who was among the first athletes included in the TOP Scheme for specialised training ahead of the Olympics, not only did not qualify for Rio but had a series of fouls here that saw him walk away frustrated even as Maheshwari barely managed to go past the 16 metres.

Meanwhile, Tintu Luka anchored the Railways side in the 4x400m relay to a new meet record (3:37.90), bettering the team's 14-year old mark by about half a second. With Karnataka leading the race right till the end, it came down to Tintu and Ashwini Akkunji, anchoring Karnataka, and the former managed to power past her national teammate with 50 metres to go.

It was all the more creditable since Tintu had run the 800m less than half hour back and had little time to recover. The national record holder ran a comparatively slow race in the 800m but was still fast enough to win with a comfortable lead of almost 50 metres between herself and second-placed Railways teammate Sushma Devi all through the race.

Among the men, Ajay Saroj won his second gold to go with the 1500m on Wednesday even as Laxmanan G completed his own 5000-10000m double and HM Jyothi added two more golds to her kitty (200m and 4x100m) to go with her 100m title.

Results:

Men: 200m: 1. Vidya Sagar (SSCB, 21.08), 2. Sanjeeth (SSCB, 21.15), 3. Akshay Khot (Mah, 21.58); 800m: 1. Ajay Saroj (RSPB, 1:56.25), 2. Vishambhar Kolekar (RSPB, 1:56.44), 3. Amoj Jacob PA (Del, 1:57.60); 10000m: 1. Laxmanan G (SSCB, 30:05.03), 2. Kalidas Hirave (LIC, 30:39.01), 3. Abhishek Pal (RSPB, 30:51.19); Triple Jump: 1. Malkit Singh (SSCB, 16.57), 2. Rakesh Babu AV (SSCB, 16.09), 3. Renjith Maheshwari (RSPB, 16.02); Hammer Throw: 1. Nireej Kumar (SSCB, 66.91), 2. Sukhdev Singh (RSPB, 63.48), 3. Bajinder Singh (Pun, 62.34); 4x100m: 1. Services (40.51, G. Vamsi Praveen, Tajinder Singh, Vidya Sagar, Sanjeeth); 2. Kerala (41.00, Rahul R, Anuroop John, Likhin S, Mohd Sadath), 3. Railways (41.30, M Sathyaseelan, Hitesh Deshwal, S Arunjith, Manikandan Raj); 4x400m: 1. Services (3:09.45, Noah Nirmal Tom, Sachin Roby, Nagaraj Shivappa, Arokya Rajeev), 2. Manipur (3:11.48, Sajiv, Harsh Panwar, Mohan Yadav, Sumit Kumar), 3. Madhya Pradesh (3:11.82, Eusup Ali, Ajit CM, Vikas Singh, Kunhu Mohd.)

Women: 200m: 1. HM Jyothi (Kar, 23.73), 2. Reena George (Kar, 23.90), 3. Annwesha Roy Pradhan (WB, 24.49); 800m: 1. Tintu Luka (RSPB, 2:03.21), 2. Sushma Devi (RSPB, 2:07.78), 3. Abitha Mary Manuel (ONGC, 2:08.77); 10000m: 1. L. Surya (RSPB, 33.33.74), 2. Sanjeevani Jadhav (ONGC, 33.50.99), 3. Swati Gadwe (RSPB, 35:48.78); Pole Vault: 1. Khyati Vakharia (Kar, 3.90), 2. Dija (RSPB, 3.60), 3. Sinju Prakash MK (Ker, 3.60); Discus Throw: Kamalpreet Kaur (ONGC, 54.25), 2. Navjeet Kaur (ONGC, 51.94), 3. Sandeep Kumari (RSPB, 49.69); 4x100m: 1. Karnataka (46.52, Apsana Begum, Prajna SP, Reena George, HM Jyothi), 2. AIPCB (46.76, Navjot Kaur, Manjusree, Bonita Lakra, Sinis), 3. Railways (46.96, Rintu Mathew, Merlin K. Joseph, Mandeep Kaur, Purnima Hembram); 4x400m: 1. Railways (3:37.90, Sonal Chawla, Sini Jose, Chavi Sehrawat, Tintu Luka), 2. Karnataka (3:38.49, Nithyashree A, Vijayakumari GK, Apsana Begum, Ashwini Akkunji), 3. ONGC (3:43.90, Anu R, Abitha Mary Manuel, Jauna Murmu, Mandeep Kaur); Heptathlon: 1. Liksy Joseph (RSPB, 5026), 2. Niksy Joseph (RSPB, 4982), 3. Sowmiya (TN, 4629).

Overall Champions: 1. Railways (274 points), 2. Services (187 points), 3. ONGC (84 points).

Best athlete: Men: Malkit Singh (SSCB, Triple Jump); Women: HM Jyothi (Kar, 100m).