Lucknow, August 29: Haryana’s Anjali Devi marked her return to competitive racing from rehabilitation from injury with a stunning victory in the women’s 400m in the 59th National Inter-State Athletics Championships at the PAC Stadium here on Thursday. She clocked a personal best 51.53 seconds, beating SaritabenGayakwad (Gujarat) and Jisna Mathew (Kerala) by a distance.
Anjali Devi, who had qualified for the IAAF World Championships as early as in September last year with a 51.79-second showing in the National Open Championships in Bhubaneshwar, showed that a long absence from track did not affect her quest for a quick time. She dipped in under the World Championships qualifying standard on Thursday as well.
Considering that no other Indian 400m runner has achieved the qualifying standard of 51.80 seconds, 20-year-old Anjali Devi’s feat on Thursday caught the attention of track and field fans in India. She had been part of the squad that had Spala as its training base but returned home to get her ankle attended to after she was unable to clock impressive times at home in March this year.
“Having not run since the Federation Cup (in March), I knew I would have to give my best in the final,” Anjali Devi said. “I am grateful to all those who stood by me when I was getting my ankle treated. The national coaches have been in touch with me and I have trained under coach RohtasSiwach at home before coming here.”
Marathon specialist Gopi Thonakal (Kerala) won the grueling 10,000m in 30:52.75, outsprinting Arjun Kumar (Uttar Pradesh) and Vikram Bangriya (Goa). Easily the oldest of the 25 men who took the starter’s orders, Gopi’s victory is creditable when viewed against the fact that as many as 13 runners, including Maharashtra’s Murli Kumar Gavit and KisanTadvi dropped out.
With L Suriya opting not to run the women’s 10,000m race and with 5000m winner Parul Chaudhary (Uttar Pradesh) not entering the event, Phoolan Pal ensured that the distance gold medals would remain with the home State. Phoolan Pal and Karnataka’s Kavita Yadav were engaged in a gritty duel but the Uttar Pradesh runner turned in a good kick in the end.
There was a keen battle at the high jump pit with SarveshKushare (Maharashtra), Geo Jose (Kerala) and B Chethan (Karnataka) finishing within 4cm of one another. For the 24-year-old SarveshKushare, who won the National Open last year at 2.24m, he had to achieve his year’s best height to win gold on Thursday.
Chethan sought to lay the gauntlet down by entering the competition only when the bar was raised to 2.10m but when it was set at 2.16, he encountered two failures and though he cleared 2.19m on first attempt, he found 2.21m hard to go over. That left the hard working Geo Jose, who joined the fray at 1.95m, a comfortable winner of the silver medal.
World University Games champion Dutee Chand’s presence on the track aroused excitement during the 100m semifinals. She clocked 11.34 seconds and will need to be faster in the final to breach the 11.24-seconds mark that will grant her automatic qualification for the World Championships in Doha next month. Archana Suseendran (Tamil Nadu) won the other semifinal heats in 11.49.
In the men’s 100m semifinals, 19-year-old Nuzrat of Haryana scripted the fastest time of 10.51 seconds. Kiran Bhosale (Maharashtra) was second in that heats in 10.57 and the two of them dragged Vinit Panwar (Manipur) and Rohith (Karnataka) as well into the final as the two fastest runners from among those who did not place first or second in their heats.
The results (finals):
10000m: 1. Gopi Thonakal (Kerala) 30:52.75; 2. Arjun Kumar (Uttar Pradesh) 30:55.71; 3. Vikram Bangriya (Goa) 30:59.98
High Jump: 1. SarveshKushare (Maharashtra) 2.23m; 2. Geo Jose (Kerala) 2.21; 3. B Chetan (Karnataka) 2.19.
Discus Throw: 1. Behnam Shiri (Iran) 57.82m; 2. Kirpal Singh (Punjab) 57.67; 3. Gagandeep Singh (Punjab) 54.57.
400m: 1. Anjali Devi (Haryana) 51.53 seconds; 2. SaritabenGayakwad (Gujarat) 52.96; 3. Jisna Mathew (Kerala) 53.08.
10000m: 1. Phoolan Pal (Uttar Pradesh) 37:00.52; 2. Kavita Yadav (Karnataka) 37:03.16; 3. Kiran Sahdev (Maharashtra) 37:10.58.
Triple jump: 1. Bhairabi Roy (West Bengal) 13.01m; 2. Aishwarya (Karnataka) 12.85; 3. KarthikaGothandapani (Andhra Pradesh) 12.74.
Pole Vault: 1. Krishna Rachan (Kerala) 3.80m; 2. Nivya (Kerala) 3.60; 3. Sinju MK (Kerala) 3.30.