A few rusty throws and jumps and a couple of impressive performances marked the return of India’s top track and field athletes to competitive action at the Indian Grand Prix 2 in Patiala on Thursday.
The biggest star on show was Hima Das making a comeback from a back problem but not as a quarter-miler. With just three women in fray, Hima ran a race of her own staying in front from the start and covering the 200m distance in 23.31sec. Second-placed Simran Deep Kaur of Delhi was way behind at 24.91sec. The national mark in 200m stands at 22.82s by Saraswati Saha in 2002. The Tokyo Olympics qualification standard is 22.80.
Hima pulled out of the 100m contest in the evening and Dutee Chand won comfortably in 11.44 seconds. She improved on her GP-1 timing of 11.51s a week ago, but is still far from the Olympics qualification mark of 11.15. Daneshwari of Karnataka was second in 11.89.
The competition was stiffer in men’s 200m where Arokia Rajiv edged past Muhammad Anas Yahiya to take the podium in 21.24s. Rajiv crossed Anas at the bend and pushed himself on the straight to win a close race. Anas was clocked at 21.44s.
The men’s 100m race was won by Krishna Kumar Satish of Maharashtra (10.71s) who defeated Amiya Mallick (10.74s) in another close contest. In the men’s 400m, Amoj Jacob of Delhi clocked an impressive 46.0s to take the podium ahead of Sarthak Bhambri (47.12).
Long jumper Murali Sreeshankar was the best on show pacing himself well through five attempts and getting the best of 8.05m in his last to win. Kerala’s Sreeshankar, who holds the national record of 8.20m, is aiming to breach Tokyo Olympic qualification mark of 8.22m.
In the women’s javelin throw, Annu Rani, another national record holder (62.43m), took the first place with a throw of 61.22m. “(The) Focus is to achieve the Olympic qualification standard (64m). Today was an average throw but I know I can improve in the upcoming events. We were preparing here during the lockdown and didn’t go home. There was an injury in my ankle and this event is a comeback for me,” she said.
Asian Games gold medallist in the shot put Tajinderpal Singh Toor was far from his personal best and national record of 20.92. His throw of 19.49 fetched him the first place but Toor, who holds the Asian Games record (20.75), said he was not satisfied. The Olympics qualification mark is 21.10m.
“I was competing after a long time. In between I had an injury and only recently that I have started to train,” he said.
“Before the lockdown, I was throwing well, I was very fit. This was my first competition in more than a year. I think I will improve in the next meet. There is still some time for Olympic qualification,” said the 26-year-old from Punjab.
The men’s javelin throw was won by Sahil Silwal (77.33m) with Rohit Yadav coming second (75.28). Asian Games gold medallist Neeraj Chopra is expected to compete in the Indian GP 3 on March 5 followed by Federation Cup on March 15.