Sajeesh Joseph and M.R. Poovamma won their races in the opening leg of the Asian Grand Prix athletics meet at the National Stadium here on Tuesday.

Joseph, looking for an Olympic qualification standard of 1:46.30, clocked his season best 1:47.78, his seventh sub-1:48 timing, in beating Asian Games silver medallist Adnan Taes of Iraq in the men's 800 metres.

Ghamanda Ram, the other Indian in the fray, finished third in 1:48.71.

Poovamma, leading the Indian challenge in the women's 400 metres, in the absence of the suspended stars, clocked a career-best 52.94s in winning the event from IranianMaryam Toosi, who was just 0.01s behind.

In fine form

This is Poovamma's first sub-53. The 21-year-old woman from Karnataka has been in fine form this season, clocking a 53.70, her best till then, in the Federation Cup at Patiala last month.

She later anchored the Indian 4x400m relay team to the first place, but with a timing of 3:38.76 the team was nowhere near the standards of 3:30 or lower that could be needed to make the top-16 in the world for Olympic qualification.

The others in the quartet were Saraswati Chand, Debashish Majumdar and Ratandeep Kaur.

The Indian men's 4x400m relay team also won, but in a mediocre 3:08.00. Indians placed poorly in other events.

Sinimole Paulose clocked a season best 2:03.19 in taking the third place in the 800 metres. Mayookha Johny (6.31) and M.A. Prajusha (6.00) could manage only the fourth and seventh places in long jump. Both were looking to gain the Olympic qualification mark of 6.65m.

Renjith Maheswary who qualified in triple jump for the Olympics with a jump of 16.85m in the Federation Cup at Patiala last month, could produce only 16.03m for the third place. Young Arpinder Singh who is credited with a 16.63 last year could not go beyond 15.95 for the fourth place.

Long jumper Ankit Sharma was fourth with 6.47m. In the men's 100 metres, B. G. Nagaraj finished third in the ‘A' race with 10.66s while Krishna Kumar Rane was second in the ‘B' race in 10.70s.

India finished third in the men's 4x100m relay (39.51s) and fourth in the women's 4x100m relay (48.97s).

Even though India had entered competitors in men's 110m hurdles and javelin and women discus no Indian figured in these events.

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