ATHLETICS / India’s Abraham qualifies for semifinals; Renjith, Navpreet fail
OSAKA: Joseph Abraham became the first male athlete from India to clear the opening round of an event in the World athletics championships when he made it into the 400m hurdles semifinals on Saturday despite finishing sixth in his heat.
Only two other Indians, both women, long jumper Anju George and discus thrower Neelam Jaswant Singh, have progressed beyond the first round in the World championships in the past.
By clocking 49.64 seconds, his second best behind his National record of 49.52s set in Guwahati, Abraham, 25, on his global debut, ensured that he would stand a fair chance to qualify.
That is how it turned out, with Abraham and the fifth-placed Ibrahim Maiga of Mali (49.55) getting through as two of the four “fastest losers” from the fastest heat of the evening, won by Olympic champion Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic in 48.70s. The first four from each of the five heats also went into the next round.
Local favourite fails
The local favourite and the fastest Asian this season, Dai Tamesue, bronze winner in the last edition in Helsinki, could not make it, finishing sixth in heat 3 with a time of 49.67.
India had disappointment in two other events on the opening day. Triple jumper Renjith Maheswary finished a shocking 13th (out of 16) in his group in the qualifying round, ending 26th overall among 33 competitors, with 16.38m while shot putter Navpreet Singh ended up 21st overall among 39 contestants with 19.35m.
Having crossed 17.04m for a sensational National record in Guwahati, many had expected Renjith to at least make the final here. In the event, he managed a series of 16.33, 16.37 and 16.38.
He had won the Asian title in Amman with a wind-aided 17.19m. He had a legal 16.97m in his series there.
The poorest qualifier into the triple jump final was Chinese Zhong Minwei (16.69) while two other Chinese, Asian Games champion Li Yanxi (16.57) and Gu Junjie (16.58) failed to qualify. Nelson Evora of Portugal (17.22m) led the field into the final.
Navpreet Singh produced his best throw in a major international competition and yet found himself far short of qualification. He had two other throws of 19.00 and 19.34. He finished 11th in his group.
The Punjab man had touched a season best 19.70m while winning the Asian title in Amman last month and has a personal best of 19.93m achieved in 2004. Navpreet had the best finish among Asians including the continental record (20.61m) holder, Saudi Arabian Sultan Abdulmajeed Al-Hebshi who could manage only 19.20 to end a rung below the Indian in group `A’.
The US-based Indian discus thrower Vikas Gowda will be in action in the qualifying round on Sunday while Anju George and discus thrower Krishna Poonia will be attempting qualification on Monday.
Kibet wins marathon
Luke Kibet ended Kenya’s 20-year wait for a men’s World marathon title with a comfortable victory on Saturday.
The 24-year-old prison guard overcame searing heat and high humidity to clinch gold in two hours, 15 minutes and 59 seconds.
Kenyan-born Qatari Mubarak Hassan Shami took silver, more than a minute behind his former compatriot in 2:17:18, and Swiss Viktor Roethlin came through to finish third in 2:17:25. Former wrestler Reese Hoffa easily dethroned fellow American Adam Nelson in the men’s shot put, adding the outdoor gold to his indoor title.
The 29-year-old threw 22.04 metres on his third attempt to beat Nelson at 21.61m and Andrei Mikhenevich of Belarus at 21.27m, still falling short of his own personal best of 22.43m.
The results: Men: Shot put: 1. Reese Hoffa (U.S.) 22.04 metres; 2. Adam Nelson (U.S.) 21.61; 3. Andrey Mikhnevich (Blr) 21.27.
Marathon: 1. Luke Kibet (Ken) 2hr 15min 59sec; 2. Mubarak Hassan Shami (Qat) 2h 17:18; 3. Viktor Rvthlin (Sui) 2h 17:25.
Women: 10,000m: 1. Tirunesh Dibaba (Eth) 31:55.41s; 2. Elvan Abeylegesse (Tur) 31:59.40; 3. Kara Goucher (U.S.) 32:02.05. — Agencies