Dutee Chand, double sprint winner at 2012 Indian Youth Championships (Anu Kumar) © Copyright
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Chand sparkles at Indian Youth champs with sprint double

Bangalore, IndiaAlthough no major championships for youth athletes will be contested this season, the Indian Youth Championships witnessed keen competition and several good performances. The ninth edition of the championships was held at Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bangalore, from 13 to 15 July.

The major highlight of the three-day meet was a fine sprint double by Dutee Chand of Orissa. Having won the national under-16 title in 100m at the same venue two years ago with a notable 12.00 clocking, Chand once again ascertained her supremacy by setting a new Indian youth best of 11.80 during the qualifying heats on the opening day. She went on to win the event with a modest 11.85 later that day. The previous meet and national record of 12.08 held by her state-mate Ranjita Mahanta was also created in qualifying rounds two years ago. On the final day of competition Chand equalled Mahanta’s national youth mark of 24.49 while taking her second gold in the 200m. Chand was rightfully adjudged as the 'best athlete’ among girls.

Tamil Nadu sprinter Augustine Yesudas become the fastest boy of the championship with a 10.79 victory in the 100m. However he barely missed the seven-year-old national record of 10.78 by a whisker on his maiden national title. "I have a muscle-catch, otherwise I could have made it better," revealed the collegian from Chennai.

Hosts Karnataka had a cheerful second day as their athletes garnered four gold medals by taking sprint hurdles and High Jump events in both boys and girls divisions. Young Meghana Shetty was a cynosure of all eyes as she outclassed the rest of the field in the girls’ 100m Hurdles clocking a noteworthy 14.06 that improved the meet mark by a huge margin but missed the national youth best by 0.04 of a second. The second year pre-university student of Mount Carmel College in Bangalore, Shetty was already crowned champion in this year’s Junior Federation Cup at Pune and went on to add a bronze medal to her kitty in Senior Nationals at Hyderabad last month. "Meghana is a medal prospect at the global competitions since she is showing high potential at the age of sixteen," voiced her coach V.R. Beedu who raised a number of national champions over the past four decades.

Meghana’s teammate Fakeerappa V. Bangi took the boys’ 110m Hurdles while high jumpers Jesse Sandesh and Srishti Sunil claimed the top-honours in their respective divisions.

Another athlete who delivered an eye-catching performance was Maharashtra middle-distance star Mandeep Goyat in the 800m. The defending champion in this event, Goyat bettered the national youth best by clocking 1:52.66 for his second successive gold in this meet. In the corresponding event for girls, Jessy Joseph retained her crown in similar fashion with a new meet mark of 2:10.72. For the record Joseph was another prodigy of legendary P.T. Usha who trained national record-holder Tintu Luka to achieve laurels in 800m in the continental arena. Her Kerala state-mate Nayana James claimed the Long Jump gold with a meet record leap of 5.94m.

Haryana athletes Sachin and Kumari Sharmila were the other two who defended their titles in boys Discus Throw and girls Javelin Throw events respectively.

Maharashtra’s hurdler Satish Pasla, who clocked 53.01 to win the 400m Hurdles, was declared the best athlete among boys.

Kerala state regained the overall championship by pushing last year’s champion Haryana to runner-up position in this edition.

Ram. Murali Krishnan for the IAAF

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