For a month before the Federation Cup in March, the selection trial for the Asian Athletics Championships, heptathlete Swapna Burman could not squat during training because of a combination of hamstring and knee injuries. Burman, who has six toes on either foot, is used to pain as she has been running with ill-fitting shoes for a good part of her life. The demands on the body the seven-discipline event puts can make an athlete prone to injury. Doctors had advised her to undergo a knee surgery but she has decided against it because she wasn’t convinced about being able to return pain-free after going under the knife.
At the Federation Cup, Burman tallied 5901 points to win gold but the defending champion was going to find it tough at the Asian Championships.
On Tuesday, Burman won a silver in Doha, despite her dodgy ankle. The injury was first detected in an MRI report after Burman felt pain in the run up to the Asian event. She aggregated a total of 5993 points to finish second behind Ekaterina Vornina (6198 points) of Uzbekistan, while Purnima Hembram, the other Indian in the fray, was fifth with 5528 points. “Not very happy, I am not pleased with my result in javelin throw this morning. Preparation was not good, I am injury queen you know, had a problem in ankle. I really wanted to do better,” Burman said at the end of the event.
A shoe company had provided her customised pairs after she won the Asian Games gold, but she has not been able to remain injury free. During the Asiad she was suffering from a dental infection but competed gamely. Burman’s silver and another by the mixed team in the 4×400 metre relay took India’s tally to 12 in the event.
The 22-year-old Barman had recorded a personal best of 12.76 metres in the shot put on Day One but Vornina of Uzbekistan proved to be a formidable competitor.
In long jump she cleared 6.01, an effort that got her 69 points. During the Federation Cup Swapna had said, “I had pulled my right hamstring. So I could not do enough speed practice. I have a grade 3 knee injury which I had first suffered before the Asian Games. Doctors have advised operation but I have resisted since I am not sure if I will be able to return to competition.”
In the 4×400 metres mixed relay, Muhammed Anas ran the first leg, followed by MR Poovamma, Vismaya and Arokia Rajiv to clock 3:16.47 to finish behind the team from Bahrain (3:15.75). There was a bit of pushing and shoving between the anchor leg runners Rajiv and Abbas Abubaker but neither team had lodged a protest till late on Tuesday.
India’s women’s 4x100m relay team of Archana Suseendran, Veeramani Revathi, Kunnath Ranga and Dutee Chand clocked 43.81 seconds, an improvement over the 44.12 clocked in the confirmatory trials in Patiala on April 13, but finished fourth behind China, Kazakhstan and Bahrain.
Dutee Chand recovered from the disappointment of not winning a medal in the women’s 100m to post a reasonably quick 23.33 in the 200m semifinal heats. She rallied over the last 50m to push China’s Kong Lingwei to second place. In the final Dutee will be up against Bahrain’s Salwa Naser who broke Sri Lanka Susanthika Jayasinghe’s championship record set in Colombo in 2002, with a time of 22.84 seconds. The 100m winner Ogla Safronova clocked 22.98 seconds.
In women’s 3000m steeple chase, Parul Choudhary clocked personal best of 10:03.43 to finish fifth in the final.
Ajay Kumar Saroj found an extra gear after the bell to qualify for the men’s 1500m final in a time of 3:49.20. He moved up from seventh to look like winning the faster of the two semifinal heats but eased up in the final 10m for Bahrain’s Mohamed Ayoub Tiouali to sneak ahead. Jinson Johnson did not start, owing a calf muscle injury. “His left calf muscle is troubling him at the moment. Doctors have advised him not to compete in such situation,” deputy chief coach Radhakrishnan Nair said in a statement.
At a glance: Heptathlon: Swapan Burman (silver) 5993 points; Purnima Hembram (5th) 5529 pts; 4×400 mixed relay: Muhammed Anas, MR Poovamma, Vismaya, Arokia Rajiv (silver) 3:16.47; 4x100m relay: Archana Suseendran, Veeramani Revathi, Kunnath Ranga, Dutee Chand (4th) 43.81 seconds; Women’s 200m heats: Dutee Chand (qualified for final) 23.33 seconds; Men’s 1,500m: Ajay Kumar Saroj (qualified for final) 3:39.20; 3000m steeplechase: Parul Chaudhary (5th) 10:03.43