Afsal on cloud nine

Special Correspondent
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Mohammed Afsal.— Photo: S. Gopakumar
Mohammed Afsal.— Photo: S. Gopakumar

P. Mohammed Afsal proved to be in a zone of his own, cracking not only his own meet record in the junior boys 1,500m but also doing one better in going under the existing National schools record as he emerged the winner in 3:59.10 on the third day of the 56{+t}{+h}State schools athletic meet at the University stadium here on Thursday.

That was reason enough for the entire 37-contingent from Palakkad to celebrate even though HS Parli, which had led the points tally for the Best School award through the last two days, made way for the Kothamangalam schools at the top.

The 16-year-old had on the opening day eclipsed his own meet record in the 3000m. This win on Thursday marked Afsal’s repeat golden double in the two same events for a second straight year.

More than the double, what stood out in the Palakkad lad’s encouraging show on Thursday’s morning was the ease with which he covered the distance.

He was hardly challenged by any of his rivals. The young champion kept his pace through the race and in fact speeded up in the last 300m before emerging as the first junior athlete from Kerala to do the distance in a sub-4-minute time.

Naturally, he was himself astonished with the effort. “Oh, did I finish under 4-minutes?” he asked when told about it and soon, a big smile spread across his face.

P.G. Manoj, coach of the Parli school, was unable to contain his joy over Afsal’s great show.

“I had told him to go all out before he left to report for the race. We had focussed on training Afsal to go under 4-minute all through the year and I am extremely happy that he finally made it.

“He is a boy with tremendous talent and a mind to do all the hard work. In one way, I think that he is the find of this meet, though he had won a record double last year too.

“Now, there should be a concerted effort on the part of officials of our State association to help him continue his training and gain sufficient exposure.

“If that is done, I am sure that we will discussing about Afsal in the years to come,” Manoj said.

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