Lifts championship title at National Schools Meet for record 17th year in a row

Kerala underlined its athletic prowess as it retained the overall championship title for a record 17th year in a row at the 59 National Schools Meet, which concluded at the Birsa Munda stadium in Ranchi on Sunday.

Dominating the show right from the first day of the five-day event, Kerala finished its odyssey with a haul of 38 gold medals, 28 silver medals and 16 bronze medals and a tally of 315 points as compared with second-placed Haryana (11-9-5, 94 points) and Maharashtra, which finished third with 9-8-11 and 84.5 points. This also marked a huge improvement over the haul of 33 gold medals, 26 silver medals and 18 bronze medals which the State had won in Etawah, Uttar Pradesh, last year.

The overwhelming show of the side, which undertook an arduous journey to Jharkhand without train bookings, facing the odds brilliantly, was steered by a superb performance by its golden girl, P.U. Chitra, who on her own finished with a golden treble by winning the girls’ under-19 1500m, 3000m and 5000m titles in a virtual repeat of what she had achieved last year. Further, the Palakkad teenager on Sunday retained the cross country title, which, incidentally, is not counted for determining the overall championship.

Key performers

Besides Chitra, the key performers who shone for the State in Ranchi were V.V. Jisha, who also finished with four gold medals including one in the 4x400m relay, Jisna Mathew, who had an individual tally of three gold medals and a bronze, and P.V. Suhail and Rugma Udayan, both of whom finished with a golden double in the horizontal jumps.

Jisha herself won three gold medals on Sunday, winning the 400m hurdles and 200m titles prior to anchoring the Kerala quartet in the 1600m relay. Earlier, she had won the 400m gold a couple of days ago.

Among schools, Parli higher secondary school (HSS) contributed the most to Kerala’s overwhelming show by winning a tally of 6-1-1, while the other institutions which made equally handsome contributions were Usha School of Athletics (3-2-1), Mundur HSS (3-1-1), St. George HSS, Kothamangalam (2-3-1), Kalladi HSS (2-2-2), Sacred Heart HSS, Bharanamganam (2-0-2), GVGHSS, Chittur (2-0-0) and KMGVHSS, Thavannur (2-0-0). In sharp contrast, there was little help from either the G.V. Raja Sports School or other sports divisions and hostels run by the Kerala State Sports Council.

The team will leave Ranchi on Monday afternoon and is expected to be reach home on Wednesday.

Education Minister P.K. Abdu Rabb hailed Kerala’s effort in Ranchi, warmly congratulating the team management and several individual athletes over phone. In a message issued here, Sports Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, while lauding the team for its exemplary show, said it would be suitably rewarded by the government on its return.

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