The qualification marks for the World Athletics Championships continued to be elusive, but M.R. Poovamma lit up the evening with a fine performance in the women’s 400 metres in the second Asian Grand Prix at the NIS Complex in Patiala on Saturday.
With a battery of technical officials in operation, and manual timings as a back-up, the meet was a smooth affair, even as triple jumper Renjith Maheswary and Om Prakash in shot put improved their performances, in promising a better fare in the Federation Cup to be staged at the same venue after a fortnight.
Returning to competition after a bout of typhoid, the 22-year-old Poovamma clocked 53.59 seconds in outclassing a weak field. Pleased with her strong start for the season despite having trained for a few days only, she expressed confidence about improving her time in the meets ahead.
Having won two titles in the Asian Grand Prix last year, Poovamma felt that better competition would help her improve on her best time of 52.94.
Coach N. Ramesh was also confident that Poovamma would improve quickly and go under the qualification mark of 52.35. Of course, the athletes have the chance to win the Asian championship and become automatic ‘A’ standard qualifiers for the World Championship, but the question mark about the event coming off continued to dangle despite attempts to host it in Jharkhand.
Renjith had only two good jumps but managed to reach 16.78 metres, better than his mark of 16.67 last week. He said that the delayed start, by about an hour on the jumping pit, had spoilt his preparation, and he could not strike any rhythm.
However, that did not stop him from competing in long jump as well, and bagging a bonus bronze.
In shot put, the other Olympian in the fray, Om Prakash won with a throw of 18.65 metres. He had two other throws of 18.19, and 18.54 — better than his last week’s effort of 18.12. However, the qualification mark was a bit away at 20.10.
Arokia Rajiv continued to shine as he won the 400 metres ahead of Kunhu Mohammed and S.K. Mortaja, with an improved time of 47.22 seconds. He also won the silver in the 200 metres, and felt that it had taken a bit of sting away from him for the 400 metres.
Coach Mohd. Kunhu who trains all the three at the Army base in Pune assured that Rajiv would go under 46.5 soon.
With the third Grand Prix having been postponed owing to the Annual General Meeting of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), the athletes will next assemble at the same venue on April 23 for the Federation Cup.
The results: Men: 200m: 1. Bhartinder Singh 21.66; 2. Arokia Rajiv 21.72; 3. Bala Murugan 22.19.
400m: 1. Arokia Rajiv 47.22; 2. Kunhi Mohammed 47.44; 3. S.K. Mortaja 47.69.
800m: 1. Manjit Singh 1:52.55; 2. Pranjal Gogol 1:52.97; 3. Vikash Latyeya 1:53.59.
3000m: 1. Kheta Ram 8:06.33; 2. P. Suresh Kumar 8:06.43; 3. V. L. Dangi 8:18.27.
400m hurdles: 1. Jithin Paul 51.72; 2. Binu Aquito 53.14; 3. Gurinder Singh 59.21.
Long jump: 1. Arshad 7.56; 2. Bhartinder Singh 7.54; 3. Renjith Maheswary 7.27.
Triple jump: 1. Renjith Maheswary 16.78; 2. Arpinder Singh 16.46; 3. Rakesh Babu 15.89.
Shot put: 1. Om Prakash 18.65; 2. Jasdeep Singh 17.95; 3. Satyender Singh 17.50.
Javelin throw: 1. Devender Singh 76.77; 2. Dinesh Kumar 73.44; 3. Samarjit Singh 72.71.
Women: 200m: 1. Asha Roy 24.23; 2. Merlin K. Joseph 24.83; 3. Sini S. 25.13.
400m: 1. M.R. Poovamma 53.59; 2. Anju Thomas 55.27; 3. Saraswati Chan 55.70.
800m: 1. M. Gomathi 2:11.99; 2. Jhuma Khatun 2:12.66; 3. Fulan Khatun 2:16.62.
3000m: 1. O.P. Jaisha 9:37.49; 2. Swati Gadke 10:13.87; 3. Kiran Rani 10:23.36.
Long jump: 1. V. Neena 5.95; 2. Amitha Baby 5.57; 3. Niksy Joseph 5.50.