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Chennai, IndiaThe 52nd edition of the Indian National Open championships, last of this season's senior competitions and held in the post-Olympic period, drew little attention from top guns but some good performances by enthusiastic juniors made it a lively four days (10-13 September) of competition.
The championships, held at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here, venue for next year’s Asian championships, witnessed only two meet marks being bettered — both in the High Jump.
Out of 14 Indian athletes who took part in the London Olympics, only four were present in Chennai and barring one — shot putter Om Prakash Singh — the others won their respective events comfortably.
Sahana Kumari, who established a national record 1.92m while qualifying for London during the Inter-State championships at Hyderabad, added one centimetre to her mark from last year by sailing over 1.84m. "I was down with fever after returning from London and competed here for my department," she said. Her husband B.G. Nagaraj garnered a silver medal in the 100m sprint.
However the men’s competition witnessed stiff competition between Jithin C. Thomas and national record-holder Harishankar Roy. Jithin cleared 2.22m to set a new meeting record. He had a smooth ride without any failure until he attempted to surpass Roy’s national record at 2.26m. Thomas could not make it this time but was confident of taking it the next season.
Tintu Luka, the London semi-finalist, ran a one-horse-race to win her pet 800m in a modest 2:04.69. However her junior colleague in the Usha School of Athletics, Jessy Joseph, had a disappointing outing as she was knocked down just a few metres before the finish by Jyoti Rani. Jessy managed to finish the race in 2:31.41 and Rani was disqualified.
Triple jumper Renjith Maheswary, who had a shocking exit in London with three fouls during the qualifying round, won his event with a leap of 16.72m here.
Many junior athletes delivered good performances and won their maiden senior title or medal during the four-day meet. Important among them were Asian junior champion Rahul Kumar Pal in the 5000m and Asian indoor bronze medallist Kumaravel Premkumar in the Long Jump.
Premkumar leapt 7.72m to take his first senior title while Rahul won a closely-fought 5000m in 14:14.64 from Indrajeet Patel, who earlier won the 10,000m on the opening day.
Shraddha Ghule, a former Commonwealth Youth Games medallist, had a golden double in the long and triple jumps. Middle distance runner Sajeesh Joseph was another athlete to take a double in 800 and 1500m.
Reigning Asian Games champion Joseph G. Abraham, who turned 31 during the meet and who narrowly missed Olympic qualification earlier this year, avenged his defeat to arch-rival Satender Singh in the 400m Hurdles. "I am planning to switch to 400m flat next year and will come back to hurdles in 2014 in time for the next Asian and Commonwealth Games," Abraham said.
Apart from Roy, there were many other national record-holders who failed to live up their billing. Shot putter Om Prakash Singh, who entered the London Games with an Indian best 20.69m, registered a paltry 17.81m for third place.
Among the other national record-holders, reigning Asian Games champion Preeja Sreedharan finished second in women’s 10,000m. The winner, Suriya Loganathan, went on to secure a double by adding 5000m gold on the final day. Another Guangzhou Asian medallist, Kavita Raut, dropped in midway during the longer race. The petite Suriya (22) revealed her ambition to deliver better performances and win a medal in the forthcoming Asian championships.
Same was the story in the women’s Pole Vault when Khyati S. Vakharia, a medical student from Bangalore, won the event from Surekha Suresh who holds the national record in this event.
Railway athletes Manikandan (10.60) and Manisha (11.77) romped home with the tile of fastest man and woman of the meet.
The Indian Railways team’s successful run continued as they annexed the overall championship with 327 points. Services team, which finished runners-up with 138 points, however had the satisfaction of taking the men’s team title.
High jumper Jithin C. Thomas (Services) and middle distance runner Tintu Luka (Railways) were adjudged best athletes among men and women respectively.