Asian Games champion Joseph Abraham came agonisingly close to the Olympic qualification standard while winning the 400m hurdles in the Federation Cup athletics championships, at the NIS Complex, here on Monday.

Abraham timed 49.98s, just outside the Olympic standard of 49.80s, but the timing held out hope that he could achieve the norm in the next couple of months, if not weeks.

It was only his 10th best career mark, but his best since the Guangzhou Asian Games where he timed 49.96s.

His National record stands at 49.51s since 2007. Behind him, Avin Thomas (51.25) and Jithin Paul (51.33), who had beaten Abraham in the Indian Grand Prix meet, were engaged in a furious tussle for the silver along with Satinder Singh (51.38), though the eventual timings proved disappointing.

Abraham said he could have timed better had he not been slower than normal up to the first hurdle and then a little sluggish after the final hurdle.

Khushbir Kaur of Punjab set a National record of 1:37:28 in the women's 20km walk. The 18-year-old walker bettered L. Deepmala Devi's 2010 record of 1:37:44 on her way to clinching the top place, nearly seven minutes ahead of the second-placed athlete.

If one were to exclude her timing of 1:37:46 clocked during the trials for the Asian championships in Nomi City, Japan, last month, this was more than seven minutes better than her best competition time returned for her fifth-place finish at the Asians.

She had timed 1:44:30 in the Japanese city.

NMR for Irfan

The men's 20km racewalk also produced a string of excellent timings, with Kerala's Irfan K.T. winning in a new meet record time of 1:22:14. The top six finishers clocked better than the meet record.

The listed meet record of Gurmeet Singh (1:31:18.46) happens to be one set on track.

Incidentally, Irfan, who had a previous personal best of 1:28:09, timed at the last National Games, was under the ‘A's standard for the Olympics (1:22:30), but being a non-designated event this will not count. In the women's event, the ‘B' standard is 1:38.

Personal bests

Javelin throw and hammer throw produced personal bests for a few. Rohit Kumar, 18, the Asian youth champion in 2009, threw the javelin to a personal best of 76.73m against his previous best of 75.03m. The Olympic standard is 79.50m.

National record holder Anil Singh, who had undergone a doping suspension, threw his best in three years (74.78m), to claim the bronze.

In hammer, Chandrodaya Narain Singh (67.78m) and Harvinder Singh (67.01) crossed their personal bests of 65.46m and 66.79m respectively. The Olympic norm is 74.00m.

The results:

Men: 3000m steeplechase: 1. Jaiveer Singh (Har) 8:49.01, 2. Th. Sanjit Luwang (Man) 8:50.93, 3. Sunil Kumar (Har) 8:52.88.

400m hurdles: 1. Joseph Abraham (Chg) 49.98s (NMR, previous 50.04), 2. Avin Thomas (Ker) 51.25, 3. Jithin Paul (Chg) 51.33; Pole vault: 1. Bineesh Jacob (Ker) 4.80, 2. Parmender Patel (ONGC) 4.70, 3. Praveen Kumar (Har) 4.70.

Long jump: 1. Ankit Sharma (MP) 7.79m, 2. Tanmoy Adhikari (MP) 7.47, 3. M. Arshad (IAF) 7.45; Hammer: 1. Chandrodaya Narain Singh (UP) 67.78m, 2. Harvinder Singh (ONGC) 67.01, 3. Kamalpreet Singh (ONGC) 65.50.

Javelin: 1. Rohit Kumar (ONGC) 76.73m, 2. Rajender Singh (Har) 76.12, 3. Anil Kumar Singh (Del) 74.48; 4x100m relay: 1. Tamil Nadu 41.49s, 2. Air Force 41.77, 3. Uttar Pradesh 42.13.

20km walk: 1. Irfan K.T. (Ker) 1:22:14 (NMR, previous 1:31:18.46T), 2. Surender Singh (Pun) 1:22:37, 3. Maniram Patel (MP) 1:22:40.

Women: 3000m steeplechase: 1. Geeta Rai (UP) 11:32.46, 2. Chinta Yadav (UP) 12:09.08, 3. Vibha Yadav (UP) 13:17.34.

400m hurdles: 1. Bhupinder Kaur (Pun) 1:01.27, 2. Raji C.T. (Ker) 1:01.67, 3. Anju Rani (NGC) 1:01.99; 4x100m relay: 1. Bengal 47.89s, 2. Kerala 48.75, 3. Delhi 49.41.

20km walk: 1. Khushbir Kaur (ONGC) 1:37:28 (NR, previous 1:37:44), 2. Anitha Mahala (Kar) 1:44:19, 3. Ranjana Gupta (MP) 1:45:06.

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