The SS Music-National inter-State athletics championship got off to a colourful start at the floodlit Nehru stadium on Wednesday and Joseph G. Abraham of Kerala had the honour of bringing up the first meet record in the 400m hurdles.
Having done much better than his third place finish of 50.28s at the last Asian meet in Jordan, Joseph has no worries about qualifying for the next meet in China.
But, still the young man did not look too pleased with his effort of 49.91s, which erased his own meet mark set in 2006. “I had aimed for a new national mark,” said the Southern Railway athlete. Incidentally the national record (49.51s) also stands in his name.
It was a fluent run all the same though Joseph was unhappy that he tipped down the second and sixth hurdles in his eagerness. “I must check with my coach (Rajinder Singh) on whether I paced my run well,” he said. “But, much better than what I did in Bhopal and even here in the Grand Prix,” he added.
The disappointment seemed only momentary for soon his face lit up as he talked about his task ahead of putting up a fine show in Guangzhou in the Asian meet. Probably that is where he has planned now for a new national mark.
In comparison, the women’s 400m hurdles suffered, though it was a virtual start to finish win for Harpreet Kaur. It was a slow race with Harpreet’s time going beyond the one minute barrier; not an impressive finish.
Nonetheless, the Punjab girl, representing Jharkand, showed grit and in the end a clear touch of discontent too when she quipped, “I am from Punjab but am not in the national camp.” Perhaps she has the conviction of a being a good performer and deserved to be given due consideration.
Earlier dance and music formed the contents in the inaugural ceremony as the teams marched in and Tamil Nadu’s G. Gayathry took the pledge on behalf of the athletes. The Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, Pratik Prakashbapu Patil formally inaugurated the meet.
Men: 400m hurdles: 1. Joseph G. Abraham (Ker) 49.91 (NMR, OR Joseph G. Abraham 50.22.3); 2. Avin A. Thomas (Ker) 50.63s; 3. P. Shankar (AP) 51.89s.
Women: 400m hurdles: Harpreet Kaur (Jhar) 1:00.12; 2. E. Prathiba (TN) 1:00.57; 3. P. Shiji John (Ker) 1:01.00.