Talk about sports and we tend to cast aside athletics as an afterthought. Occasionally, though, we come across events that steer not just sporting enthusiasts, but also the common man away from their couches. The 55th National Open Athletics Championship, that kicked off on the 16th of this month in Kolkata, looks like a good step towards transforming the fabric of grassroots sports in the country. Sports Rediscovered takes a look at how things have gone down with the Indian athletes till now.
Lalita Babar came in first in the 300 metres steeplechase event, clocking 9:39.83 seconds and charting a new meet record on the way (previous best: 10:08.50). Incidentally, Babar beat the previous record holder Sudha Singh (9:47.31), also representing Railways, who also bettered her old record. Meanwhile, Preeti Lamba came in third (10:43.03) for ONGC. The parallel men’s event saw Services take the top spots, with Naveen ranking first (8:42.79 seconds), Jaiveer Singh coming in second (8:49.53) and Railways’ Sachin Patil bringing up the rear (8:51.03).
Shot putter Inderjeet Singh seems to have put his relatively lackluster performance in the World Athletics behind him, hurling the ball to a distance of 19.82 metres (an improvement from the 19.52 metres throw in the Beijing finals) to emerge numero uno. Omprakash Singh (17.96 metres) and Tajinder Singh (17.87 metres) followed.
The Indian racewalkers, who had made their mark during last month’s World Athletics Championships, shone again during yesterday’s events. National Record holder Khushbir Kaur, who had finished 37th, came in first for ONGC (1:49:09.00). Karamjit Kaur and Shanti Kumari, both fielded by Railways, came in second and third.
Dutee Chand: Back on Track
It looks like things are finally going the way they should for Dutee Chand. The Railways’ sprinter, after waging, and winning, a historical gender case, took gold in the 100 metres race. Chand clocked 11.68 seconds to beat team mate Srabani Nanda (11.70 seconds).The parallel men’s event saw Manikandan Raj take gold with a timing of 10.70 seconds.
OP Jaisha set a new meet record in the 5000 metres race.The 32-years-old Keralite stopped the clocks at 15.31.73 seconds to shatter Preeja Sreedharan’s 8 years old record of 15:45.96 seconds, finishing ahead of L Surya (15:56.24) and Swati Gadwe (16:11.62). The parallel men’s event was won by G Lakshmanan, appearing for Services (14:00.07).
When the Big Guns Don’t Fire
The biggest upset of the day was caused by Shraddha Bhaskar Ghule (6.38 metres), who beat Mayookha Johny to take gold in the women’s long jump event. Johnny, making her comeback after a slow 2014, jumped 6.34 metres, while fellow Keralite MA Prajusha (6.26 metres) was pushed to the fourth place by Tanjila Khatun (6.27 metres).
Summary: National Open Athletics
Railways lead the points table with 128 points, while ONGC (82 points) stands ahead of Services by one point.