NEW DELHI: Amidst a clutch of mediocre performances, V.S. Sureka's national record in pole vault and Ghamanda Ram's 1:47 in the 800 metres stood out as creditable exceptions as the Indian athletics season got off to a limping start through the first National circuit meet at the Nehru Stadium here on Wednesday.
For a senior national-level meet, the performances proved an apology overall. Thin fields in a majority of the events and timings comparable to school standards proved to be the order of the day and if Sureka and Ghamanda Ram raised their levels a notch above par it was surely with an eye on Commonwealth Games selection.
Sureka raised the bar in women's pole vault to 3.90 metres, bettering the mark of 3.80m she held jointly with Chetna Solanki since last year.
"I am not happy with my performance, but a national record is a national record. I was aiming for four metres in this meet," said Sureka, the Southern Railway commercial clerk from Chennai. She will need a mark of around 4.10 metres in coming weeks if she has to gain selection for the Melbourne Games.
Sureka did go for 4.00 metres and had two narrows misses in her three failures. She had caught up with Chetna Solanki at 3.80 at last year's Asian championships. Sureka pointed out her plight of having to compete with just one personal pole. "I can't afford to buy a new one, costing around Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000," she said.
Ghamanda Ram, with a pacer taking him through an unofficial opening lap of 51.6 secs tried his best through the final lap, but a below-par 29 seconds for the last 200 metres pushed him back a little. Yet, the Armyman's eventual 1:47.16 happened to be one of the best clocked at home by an Indian. Last year, at Jamshedpur, Ghamanda had timed 1:46.81, the best by an Indian on Indian soil.
Just two, Harwant Kaur (51.24m) and Krishna Poonia (48.57m) competed in women's discus and three in the women's 1500 metres where O. P. Jaisha beat the Asian indoor champion, Sinimol Paulose. Pinki Parmanik clocked a creditable 2:03.42 in the women's 800 metres.
The results:Men: 200m: Race `A': Sarish Paul (Ser) 22.03s, 2. P. Muthuswamy (TN) 22.05, 3. Anil Kumar Rohil (Ser) 22.29; Race `B': Srinivas S. (Rly) 21.89, 2. Varun Sabharwal (Del) 22.02, 3. B. Ramu (Ser) 22.31; 800m: 1. Ghamanda Ram (Ser) 1:47.16, 2. Satnam Singh (Pun) 1:51.57, 3. Daljeet Singh (Har) 1:52.66; 1,500m: 1. Pritam Bind (ONGC) 3:46.48, 2. C. Hamza (Ser) 3:46.55, 3. Ravinder (Del) 3:50.20; 5,000m: 1. Santosh Kumar Patel (Rly) 14:43.79, 2. S. Raghunath (Rly) 14:45.09, 3. Ram Bahadur Subba (BSF) 14:47.72; High jump: 1. Hari Shankar Roy (Rly) 2.15m, 2. Om Veer Singh (Rly) 2.08, 3. Vinod Kumar (Rly) 2.05; Pole vault: 1. R. Ranjith (TN) 4.50m, 2. Vadivelu (TN) 4.50, 3. Kuwlinder Singh (P.Pol) 4.30; Shot put: 1. Om Prakash (Har) 17.22, 2. Kuldeep Mann (CISF) 16.85, 3. Saurabh Vij (Del) 16.70; Hammer: 1. Kuwlinder Singh (P. Pol) 64.20m, 2. Nirbhay Singh (Navy) 63.39, 3. Naresh Choudhary (Del) 62.73; Javelin: 1. Anil Kumar (Rly) 72.62m, 2. Om Narayan (Rly) 72.16, 3. Sunil Goswami (LIC) 69.99.
Women: 200m: Race `A': H.M. Jyothi (Canara Bank) 24.21s, 2. Babita Singh (Rly) 24.44, 3. Anisha Vijayan (CRPF) 24.96; Race `B': 1. Deepti Jose (Rly) 24.86s, 2. K. Mridula (AP) 26.39, 3. Suman Sajwan (Del) 27.56; 800m: Pinki Parmanik (Rly) 2:03.42, 2. Stapa Das (Rly) 2:11.96, 3. Tejinder Kaur (Rly) 2:13.62; 1,500m: 1. O.P. Jaisha (Rly) 4:20.62, 2. Sinimol Paulose (Tata) 4:21.74, Preeja Sreedharan (Rly) 4:26.79; Pole vault: 1. V. S. Sureka (Del) 3.90m (National record, previous 3.80), 2. Geetanjali Bora (Asm) 3.75, 3. Chetna Solanki (UP) 3.60; Discus: 1. Harwant Kaur (Pun) 51.24m, 2. Krishna Poonia (Raj) 48.57 (only two competed).