Sreekiran, Seema qualifies for Youth Olympics

Bangkok, Jul 05: Sreekiran Nandakumar and Anu Kumar’s 1-2 finish in the 800m race was the highlight of the day from an Indian perspective at the Asian Area qualification leg of the 2018 Youth Olympic Games that concluded  in Bangkok, Thailand on Friday. Sreekiran and Anu were two of the five athletes who earned qualification quotas to participate at the Youth Olympics to be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in October this year.

The outcome of the 800m race gave Sreekiran a place in the 2018 Youth Olympics, as the Youth Olympic quota was only being awarded to one winner per country. Nandakumar clocked a time of 1:50.93 seconds to pip compatriot Anu Kumar who claimed a silver medal with a time of 1:51.13 seconds. Samer Alhjohar of Jordan took bronze with a time of 1:52.10 seconds.

The result would be particularly satisfying for Tamil Nadu’s Nandakumar who had been forced to drop out of the final of the Junior Asian Championships last month after suffering from a severe migraine just before his contest. As  a result it was Anu Kumar who had won that race in Gifu, Japan. Incidentally, Anu Kumar had pipped Nandakumar to the post in the Junior Federation Cup in April this year.

The day had started in a positive note for the Indian contingent in Bankok after Suraj Soren had claimed a silver medal in the 10000m race walk – an event where 3 quota spots were on offer. Soren clinched his medal with a time 47:40.61 seconds. The Uttarakhand finished just a fraction of a second behind China’s Xin Wang who clocked  47:40.11 seconds. Japan’s Yusuke Iwakawa claimed the third step on the podium with a time of 47:45.30 seconds. Although pleased at having qualified for the Youth Olympics, Soren will be looking to improve on his timing which was nearly five minutes slower than the 42:37.84 seconds he had clocked at the Junior Federation Cup in April this year.

Also earning a quota places for the Youth Olympics was 3000m runner Seema. Needing to finish on the podium to claim a quota spot, The athlete from Himachal Pradesh clocked 9:55.87 seconds to claim the silver medal behind Japan’s Miyaki Sugata who recorded a time of 9:40.82 seconds. Another Japanese Hidori Kidokoro claimed bronze with a time of 9:57.54 seconds. The silver medal was a marked improvement from the fifth place finish the 17-year-old had picked up at the Asian Junior Championships where she had clocked a sub par time of 10:12.33 seconds.

The final Indian to earn a quota spot on the day was hurdler Vishnu Priya Jayaprakasan. With only the top two finishers earning a quota spot to Buenos Aires, the Kerala sprinter edged out China’s Changwei Lu to claim the silver medal. Where Jayaprakasan clocked a time of 1:00.95 seconds, Lu could only manage a time of 1:01.71 seconds. The race was won by Chinese Taipei’s Jui Hsuan Yang who clocked 59.78 seconds.

Just missing out on a quota spot despite winning a medal was middle distance runner Radha Choudhary. Although she won a silver medal in the women’s 800m, Choudhary will miss the flight to Buenos Aires as only one quota was on offer in her event. That quota went to Maki Ueda who clocked 2:08.28 seconds compared to the 2:08.86 clocked by the Indian.

Delhi sprinter Nisar Ahmed also booked a berth for Youth Olympics despite finishing 5th in overall ranking with the timing of 22.16 seconds in 200m finals.