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Amritpal betters Yohannan record

By K. P. Mohan

Amritpal Singh of Punjab, who set a National record in the men's long jump. — Photo: V. Sudershan .

NEW DELHI, MARCH 16. T. C. Yohannan's fabled long jump mark is history. Amritpal Singh, a strapping 21-year-old from Punjab, kicked sand at 8.08 metres on Tuesday to better one of the long-standing National records on the opening day of the Federation Cup athletics championships here.

Yohannan's golden feat of 8.07 metres in the Teheran Asian Games had remained in Indian athletics folklore for 30 long years. Though it will remain as one of the high points of Indian athletics for many more years, Amritpal is the proud custodian of the National mark now. Not just that, the Sangrur athlete also made the qualifying norm for the Athens Olympics. That standard happened to be 8.05 m, a mark he touched twice this day before he went past the National mark.

The eight-metre mark had remained elusive for the Indian jumpers since Yohannan's leap till Sanjay Kumar Rai touched the magical distance twice in the year 2000. Amritpal is thus only the third Indian to cross 8.00 m.

Not surprisingly, only a handful of spectators turned up at the Nehru Stadium to witness the opening day's fare. Till the time Amritpal touched 8.05 m, on his third jump, there was little to attract anyone's attention in the day's prosaic proceedings. The mild clapping that greeted his eight-metre jump forced fellow athletes, coaches and scribes to turn their attention towards the pit. He touched 8.05 again on his fourth attempt and was understandably disappointed that he had not bettered the record.

The fifth jump drew another round of applause, for he had taken off smoothly and landed well past the eight-metre mark. As Amritpal made sure that he had crossed the magical mark, he pumped his fists, let out a subdued yell and waved to the crowd, comprising mainly athletes and coaches, before making his way back to the sidelines. He had jumped into a mild headwind of 0.84 metres per second.

When the referee was called in to re-measure the jump, it was announced as 8.08 after word had gone around that the Punjab Police Assistant Sub-Inspector had touched 8.10. His last jump was only 6.51m as he strained his left hamstring and limped off. The only debatable point after the record feat was whether the pit was a little too deep to pass technical scrutiny.

"I am elated. Ever since I started jumping in 1999, this record has been on my mind,'' said Amritpal, whose best till Tuesday had been his 7.98m at the All India Police meet in Chennai last year. That mark did not make the official 2003 ranking list in which his 7.79m at the Hyderabad Federation Cup was put behind Tamil Nadu jumper Wayne Peppin's mark of 7.90m.

The results: Men: 100m: 1. Piyush Kumar (Del) 10.35 (NMR, old 10.49s), 2. Vilas Nilgund (Kar) 10.42, 3. H. Jayachandran (TN) 10.52; 1500m: 1. Ghamanda Ram (Army) 3:53.28, 2. Sunil Kumar (Har) 3:53.44, 3. Mukesh Kumar Yadav (UP) 3:53.56; pole vault: 1. Geesh Kumar (Ker) 4.95m (NMR, old 4.90), 2. Jatinder Kumar (UP) and Gajanan K. Upadhyay (UP) 4.80; Long jump: 1. Amritpal Singh (Punjab) 8.08m (National record, old 8.07m), 2. Maha Singh (Har) 7.68, 3. V. Ashok Kumar (TN) 7.34; shot put: 1. Navpreet Singh (Punjab Police) 19.57m, 2. Ranvijay Singh (UP) 18.76, 3.Rajeev (Del) 17.98.

Women: 100m: 1. Poonam Tomar (Del) 11.83, 2. K. N. Priya (TN) 12.13, 3. Rakhi Saha (Ben) 12.15; 1500m: 1. Preeja Sreedharan (Ker) 4:32.22, 2. Hemlatha A. (Kar) 4:34.06, 3. Sunita (Del) 4:35.31; Discus: 1. Harwant Kaur (Punjab Police) 59.38m, 2. Seema Antil (CRPF) 57.06, 3. Krishna Poonia (Har) 49.19; Javelin: 1. Gurmeet Kaur (Del) 53.25m, 2. Suman Devi (UP) 52.05, 3. Gurpreet Kaur (Har) 48.57.

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