In a meet that did not produce too many top-level performances, National records by high jumper Nikhil Chittarasu and triple jumper P. Pranav stood out in the National Junior Inter-Zonal Athletics Championships that concluded at Panchkula, near here, on Thursday (Sept 3).
Chittarasu scaled 2.17 metres on the concluding day of the three-day meet to emerge as one of the most outstanding juniors of the championships. He bettered Hari Sankar Roy’s 2.15 metres set five years ago while re-asserting his stature. The Tamil Nadu boy, who turned 19 last month, had set a personal best and championship record of 2.13 metres while winning the Junior Federation Cup meet in Lucknow in July. He had earlier won the silver in the Commonwealth Youth Games in Pune last year with a height of 2.09m.
This has been a remarkable season for the Tamil Nadu high jumper, as he first improved his PB to 2.10 in the National Grand Prix meet in Coimbatore in May, then to 2.13 in Lucknow and now to 2.17. He is now in a position to rub shoulders with the top high jumpers of the country, Roy and Benedict Starley, at the senior level.
Pranav, who came into the limelight only this season with a National junior (under-18) record at the South Zone meet in Kochi last month, with a jump of 15.45 metres, nine centimeters better than the previous record held by Dheeraj Kumar Mishra, further improved upon that mark at Panchkula by leaping to a distance of 15.63 metres.
Pranav’s prodigious talent and potential were first noticed by Coach T. P. Ouseph who took him under his wings at the Kothamangalam Athletics Academy in Kerala. “He is capable of doing 17-plus,” says Ouseph.
At five feet 11 inches, Pranav has the body structure to join the best of triple jumpers in the country, led by Renjith Maheswary, the only Indian to cross 17 metres. Even as triple jumping standards have shown a downward trend at the senior level, Pranav’s feats should provide a fresh ray of hope to the authorities.
His dramatic improvement from 15.04m early this season to 15.63m should suggest that Pranav is capable of achieving his target of 15.80 or 16 metres this year. Obviously much focus would be fixed on this Kerala boy in the months to come.
Among others who bettered National records in the meet were Sikander of Haryana, in the boys under-16 high jump (2.03m), J. Preeth of Tamil Nadu, in the boys under-18 Pole Vault (4.55m), Prabhjot Kaur of Punjab, in the girls under-18 Discus Throw (43.66m), the Tamil Nadu medley relay team in the girls under-16 section (2:18.80) and the Bengal team in the boys under-16 medley relay (2:01.49).
Gayathri Govindaraj equaled a National record in the junior women’s Triple Jump by reaching a distance of 13.11 metres. Mayookha Johny had the sole possession of that record till now.
Expectedly, Gayathri won the Triple Jump and 100m titles. The Tamil Nadu girl had come into prominence at the Commonwealth Youth Games last year winning silver medals in 100m Hurdles and Triple Jump. Since then, she has improved in Triple Jump, moving from 12.89m last year to 13.04m in Chennai in May and the present 13.11 that puts her closer to the seniors.
Tamil Nadu won the boys and overall championships while Maharashtra claimed the girls’ championships.
By an IAAF Correspondent
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