Tintu Luka finishes second, clocks season's best in Belgium
Commonwealth Games gold medallist Krishna Poonia won the discus title in the Portland annual athletics meet in Portland, U.S., with a season best 58.88 metres on Saturday.
She had registered her previous season best of 56.23m while finishing fourth in the Asian championships in Kobe, Japan, last month.
Poonia is training in Portland under the guidance of former Olympic champion Mac Wilkins.
In an e-mail message on Sunday, Poonia expressed the confidence that she would be able to achieve the ‘qualification' mark (62.00m) for the London Olympics before she returned home in November.
The ‘qualification' standard is 59.50m, a mark that Poonia and the other leading discus thrower in the country, Harwant Kaur, should be capable of achieving.
Thomas takes gold
Meanwhile, Tintu Luka came second in the 800 metres in the Flanders Cup at Kessel-Lo, Leuven, Belgium, on Sunday in a season best 2:01.75.
American Latavia Thomas, 22, who has a personal best and season best of 1:59.67, was first in 2:01.57, while Canadian Karine Belleau-Beliveau was third in a personal best 2:02.54.
It was the first tough race on the European tour that Tintu ran, she having won in Karlstad, Sweden, and Amsterdam earlier in modest timings of 2:02.58 and 2:03.62 respectively.
The field was good for Tintu to aim for the Olympic qualification mark of 2:01.30, with the European silver medallist of 2010, Yvonne Hak of the Netherlands, a 1:58.85 runner, also in the fray.
Hak eventually finished fourth in 2:03.47. It turned out to be a contest between Thomas and Tintu in cloudy but pleasant weather, with the Indian looking to improve her timing rather than just win a medal. “There was a ‘pacer' about whom we didn't know till the race developed,” said coach P.T. Usha, speaking from Amsterdam, on Sunday. The ‘pacer' took Tintu off to a fast 200 metres, the Indian, according to the splits that Usha timed, clocking 26.7 seconds for that segment. Usha said she would have been happier for her ward to have run a little slower for the first 200m.
Usha said that she timed Tintu at 57.7 seconds for the opening lap, with Thomas possibly around 57.4, just behind the ‘pacer'.
By around 500 metres, the ‘pacer' was through with the pacing and she probably wanted to break off at that stage, brushing Tintu, coming behind, and somewhat breaking the Indian's rhythm.
Usha said Tintu finished well on the straight, though she could not bridge the gap that had developed between her and the American.
Usha, though a touch disappointed that the Olympic qualification yet eluded her trainee, was happy that Tintu had timed her season best and looked well prepared for the World championships in Daegu, starting from August 27.
It was only the fifth race of the season for the 22-year-old Tintu, who has a personal best and National record of 1:59.17, clocked in Split, Croatia, last year.
Tintu and Usha were scheduled to return home on Monday.
India's 800m specialist in the men's section, Ghamanda Ram, in the meantime, came second in the Flanders meet, clocking 1:47.50, behind Irishman Mark English who set a junior National record of 1:47.09 while winning. Kyle Smith of Canada was third in 1:47.64.
Ghamanda was looking for 1:46.30, the Olympic qualification standard, which proved distant yet again.
He had a personal best 1:46.46 while taking the bronze in the Asian championships in Kobe, Japan, last month. He has not qualified for the World championships also.
Keywords: Portland meet