In an opening day dominated by mediocrity, Tamil Nadu’s Archana Suseendran was a standout performer winning the women’s 200m at the 59th National Inter-State Athletics Championships here on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the NADA’s Dope Control Officers (DCOs) were yet to arrive to collect dope samples from the athletes. PK Srivastava, the secretary of Uttar Pradesh Athletics Association, which is organising the meet, had claimed on Monday that the NADA officials will come on Tuesday (opening day) to collect samples from the athletes.
The absence of anti-doping mechanism during key competitions on the day certainly takes away a lot of sheen from the competition.
Back on track, Archana beat a stiff challenge from her team-mate V Revathi to clinch the gold in 23.39 seconds. She had run a personal best time of 23.18 seconds at the Indian Grand Prix V in Patiala on August 16. Dhana Lakshmi, also of Tamil Nadu, won the bronze in 24.22.
Archana’s time fell short of the World Championship qualifying standard (of 23.02 seconds) but the 25-year-old was happy that she could justify her billing as favourite to win the event.
Odisha’s Srabani Nanda cried off from the championships at the last minute, leaving the Tamil Nadu trio to sweep the podium places. Odisha’s Dutee Chand had also decided to focus on 100m dash and had skipped the 200m event.
None could come close to World Championships qualifying mark in the nine finals held on Tuesday.
“I had a restless night, but I knew I had to win the race today at any cost,” Archana said.
“I would have liked a bit more time to recover from the heats, but I am glad I was able to clock a good time on a track that is not as bouncy as the one in Patiala. I am glad I was able to justify the faith that my coaches have in me in the national camp.”
The men and women’s 5000m races were on the slower side, given the tough conditions, but both held the crowd in thrall with G Lakshmanan (Tamil Nadu) and Parul Chaudhary, the home favourite, producing expected finishing bursts to push Bugutha Srinu (Andhra Pradesh) and L Suriya (Tamil Nadu) to second places respectively.
The men’s 400m heats saw Delhi’s Vikrant Panchal (47.25 seconds) and Kerala’s Alex Anthony (47.59) lead a bunch of four runners who dipped in under 48 seconds. Ayyasamy Dharun, returning to competitive racing from injury and rehabilitation, won a slow first round heats in 48.40 seconds while Mohan Kumar Raja, running under AFI colours, also qualified for the semifinals with a time of 48.08.
Tamil Nadu’s Nithin was the fastest qualifier for the men’s 200m final, clocking 21.16 seconds. He beat Haryana’s Vikas Sheokhand to second place in the faster of the two semifinals. Delhi’s Akshay Nain (21.39) finished ahead of Odisha’s Amiya Mallick (21.63) in the first semifinal.
The Championship had lost its sheen after a host of top stars decided to skip it. The Athletics Federation of India had announced that the four-day Championships will be the qualifying event for the World Championships (September 28 to October 6 in Doha) selection but still a lot of stars have been given exemption.
5000m: 1. G Lakshmanan (Tamil Nadu) 14:34.30; 2. Bugatha Srinu (Andhra Pradesh) 14:35.30; 3. Man Singh (Uttarakhand) 14:40.63.
Pole vault: 1. Jessan (Kerala) 4.90m; 2. Ebin Sunny (Kerala) 4.80; 3. Bineesh Jacob (Karnataka) 4.80.
200m: 1. Archana Suseendran (Tamil Nadu) 23.39 seconds; 2. V Revathi (Tamil Nadu) 23.59; 3. Dhana Lakshmi (Tamil Nadu) 24.22.
5000m: 1. Parul Chaudhary (Uttar Pradesh) 17:51.38; 2. L Suriya (Tamil Nadu) 17:51.88; 3. Arati Patil (Maharashtra) 17:55.90.
Discus throw: 1. Navjeet Kaur Dhillon (Punjab) 55.42m; 2. Suravi Biswas (West Bengal) 49.44; 3. Pramila (Rajasthan) 47.54.
Hammer throw: 1. Manju Bala (Rajasthan) 57.71m; 2. Jyoti Jakhar (Haryana) 55.71; 3. Anmol Kaur (Punjab) 54.85.
High jump: 1. Athira Somaraj (Kerala) 1.76m; 2. Libia Shaji (Kerala) 1.76; 3. Laimwn Nazary (Assam) 1.73.
20km walk: 1. B Soumya (Kerala) 1:48:19.35; 2. Priyanka Goswai (Uttar Pradesh) 1:48:21.61; 3. Sonal Sukhwal (Rajasthan) 1:48:40.12.
Mixed 4x400m relay: 1. Kerala (Kannan C, PO Sayana, S Rajendran and NH Faiyiz) 3:31.62; 2. Delhi 3:33.85; 3. Maharashtra 3:37.47.
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