Trained in Turkey, quarter-milers disappoint in first appearance on return home


Their first appearance at home in 2019 was disappointing, to say the least. After all, a whole bunch of 400m runners had spent many a week in Turkey, focusing on training for the big season ahead, ostensibly away from distraction. It was natural that this bunch drew more attention than any other athletes in the Indian Grand Prix 2 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Arokia Rajiv clocked 46.49 seconds to be the fastest in the three men’s races. In the nine-woman event, MR Poovamma broke the beam in 54.12 seconds, a far cry from the sub-53 and sub-52 times that she has produced with in the past few years. That these were the best of the lot is a commentary in itself.

None of the runners on view came close to the qualifying mark for the Asian Athletics Championships – 45.85 seconds for men and 52.75 seconds for women. With big guns like Muhammad Anas Yahiya, Hima Das and Jisna Mathew staying away from the event in Delhi. it was left to the seasoned Arokia Rajiv and MR Poovamma to try and speed things up.

Even granting that it was only their first run of the season and they were easing into competitive mode, the quarter-milers who had trained for several weeks in Turkey were rather under-cooked. The Athletics Federation of India officials would have been among the most disappointed, having pinned their faith in a lot that was sent to Turkey at some cost.

Had it not been for Odisha’s Dutee Chand who made light of an utter lack of competition and met the 23.30 seconds’ qualifying standard for the Asian Athletics Championship to be held in Doha from April 21, the day would have been one of complete disappointment for the handful of track and field fans who turned up on a chilly afternoon.

Nisar Ahmed, who was disqualified during the National Youth Athletics Championship in Raipur earlier this month, was allowed to compete in the Grand Prix pending a decision by the Athletics Federation of India to impose a two-year sanction on scores of such athletes as envisaged by the National Sports Development Code of India, 2011.

He was the fastest sprinter of the day, clocking 22.05 seconds in race A, throwing down the gauntlet to Madhya Pradesh’s Emmanuel Paul and Delhi lad Abhinav Panwar. They ran a fast race B but could not spur one another to slip past Nisar Ahmed’s time. It defied understanding why two races were run when only eight sprinters reported to the call room.

With Jinson Johnson’s not putting in an appearance after filing his entry and Manjit Singh not entering the meet, Uttar Pradesh metric miler Ajay Kumar Saroj strove manfully to meet the Asian Championship qualifying standard of 3:46.00 but finished one-tenth of a second outside that mark. His State-mate Rahul tried to pace him but that was not enough.

At some point of time, AFI will have to consider introducing minimum standards for athletes to be eligible to compete in such meets. Else, it will be left with a situation where it hands out medals and certificates to athletes who manage 13.20m in men’s shot put and 25.19m in women’s discus throw as it did on Wednesday.



200m: 1. Nisar Ahmed (Delhi) 22.05 seconds; 2. Emmanuel Paul (Madhya Pradesh) 22.37; 3. Abhinav Panwar (Delhi) 22.51.

400m: 1. Arokia Rajiv (Tamil Nadu) 46.49 seconds; 2. KS Jeevan (Karnataka) 47.02; 3. Kunhu Muhammed (Kerala) 47.19.

1500m: 1. Ajay Kumar Saroj (Uttar Pradesh) 3:46.10; Rahul 3:48.15 (Uttar Pradesh); 3. Ankit (Haryana) 3:49.90.

400m hurdles: 1. Dharun Ayyasamy (Tamil Nadu) 49.94 seconds; 2. Santhosh Kumar (Tamil Nadu) 50.77; 3. M Ramachandran (Tamil Nadu) 50.83.

Triple jump: 1. SN Mohammed Salahuddin (Tamil Nadu) 15.80m; 2. Jay Shah (Maharashtra) 15.44; 3. Praveen Chithravel (Tamil Nadu) 15.40.

Shot put: 1. Parveen (Haryana) 17.37m; 3. Sahib Singh (Delhi) 16.53; 3. G Venkatesh Naidu (Andhra Pradesh) 13.20.

Discus throw: 1. S Mithravarun (Tamil Nadu) 52.62m; 2. Arvind Rathee (Haryana) 48.98m; 3. Surjeet Gurra (Delhi) 47.62,

Javelin throw: 1. Abhishek Singh (Uttar Pradesh) 78.24m; 2. Abhishek Drall (Delhi) 75.19; 3. Yashvir Singh (Rajasthan) 67.95.


200m: 1. Dutee Chand (Odisha) 23.30 seconds; 2. Anjali Devi (Haryana) 24.15; Supriya Maddali (Andhra Pradesh) 24. 48.

400m: 1. MR Poovamma (Karnataka) 54.12 seconds; 2. Saritaben Gayakwad (Gujarat) 54.61; 3. Prachi (Uttar Pradesh) 54.74.

1500m: 1. PU Chithra (Kerala) 4:20:76; 2. Lili Das (West Bengal) 4:20.89; 3. Usha Sati (Delhi) 5:08.07.

Shot put: 1. Kachnar Chaudhary (Rajasthan) 14.41m; 2. Anamika Das (West Bengal) 13.75; 3. Sonal Goyal (Delhi) 13.28,

Discus throw: 1. Navjeet Kaur Dhillon (Punjab) 54.92m; 2. Nidhi Rani (Haryana) 45.95; 3. Surgyan Choudhary (Rajasthan) 25.19.

Javelin throw: 1. Kumari Sharmila (Haryana) 50.94m; 2. Rupinder Kaur (Punjab) 48.62.

Triple jump: 1. Renu (Haryana) 12.76m; 2. Sheena (Kerala) 12.45; 3. Sonam (Uttar Pradesh) 12.34.

This report first appeared in Mail Today on February 28


About Rajaraman 453 Articles
Born on March 10, 1961 in Hyderabad, I wanted to be an electronics engineer but my focus on cricket and basketball at school and junior college meant that I missed qualifying from the entrance examination. I led the School and Junior College basketball teams. I then decided he would be sports a journalist like my father, Mr N Ganesan. While I graduated in commerce from the Badruka College of Arts and Commerce, I also spent more time in sports, representing Andhra Pradesh in the National Basketball Championship in 1980 and Osmania University in 1981-82. I joined the 1981-82 batch of Osmania Univeristy's Bachelor in Communication and Journalism. I missed the gold medal by 0.6 per cent and was pursuing the Masters' degree when The Hindu offered me a job as Sub-Editor in Madras. I took up The Hindu assignment on March 17, 1983. Though my job entailed editing functions only, I got to cover the annual Sholavaram motor racing grands prix in 1985 and 1986 and the Himalayan Rally in 1985 when my photographs also found expression in The Sportstar. I left The Hindu in November 1986 to join Press Trust of India as Sports Reporter in Hyderabad. I was called to New Delhi to report on the World Table Tennis Championship in March 1987. I covered a variety of events, including the SAF Games in Calcutta in 1987 and Islamabad in 1989. I ventured to Delhi in July 1992 when I joined The Pioneer as a Senior Reporter/Sub-Editor (Sports). My cricket writing skills came to the fore when I was deputed to write on India's tour of Sri Lanka in July-August 1993. I was rewarded with a promotion as Deputy Sports Editor in 1995. The departure of the Sports Editor in January 1996 saw me hold charge. A good performance during the 1996 World Cup cricket and the Olympic Games in Atlanta - when The Pioneer brought out a four-page supplement every day saw me being confirmed as Sports Editor in August 1996. The Hindustan Times, Delhi's largest newspaper, appointed me as Associate Editor (Sports) in January 1997. I conceived and launched a weekly colour supplement, Sport during the World Cup football finals in 1998. I covered the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok and the 1999 World Cup cricket in England. I left the Hindustan Times on February 23, 2000 to take up position as Editor, on February 26 and can claim with pride that I played no mean role in building a good site that is rated among the best cricket news sites. Besides, a number of TV channels – NDTV, Star News, Doordarshan, CNBC, Zee News – and radio stations like BBC, SABC and ABC have invite me to in-studio discussions on cricket. In 2001, I authored a book, Match-fixing: The Enemy Within (Har Anand Publications). I joined as Senior Editor in June 2001 and worked for two years, helping it transform from a corporate website to a respected sports site and playing a role in driving the hugely popular online fantasy cricket game, Super Selector. I left the website to pursue life as a freelance writer and consultant, editing the Afro-Asian Games Observer in Hyderabad in October-November 2003 and helping the Board of Control for Cricket in India's Communication Committee. I joined the respected weekly magazine Outlook as Senior Special Correspondent in April 2005 and worked there till September 2007, with a story highlighting Sunil Gavaskar's minimal contribution to Indian cricket after his retirement being one of the best in my career. For a year, till Sept 30, 2008, I was Sports Editor, Samay, Sahara India's National news channel. I live in New Delhi with my wife Sudha and daughter Priya and after a short stint with and, I am now consultant with the Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi (28° 40' 0 N, 77° 13' 0 E) lending my shoulder to the wheel that will make India a hugely popular sports destination.

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