Though the Indian Grand Prix is not the most prominent event in the Indian Athletics Calendar, it surely is a good launchpad and testing ground for most athletes. For spectators, selectors and coaches, it gives a sign of things to come in the Federation Cup that follows. Here is a look at the efforts that our athletes have put in, with short reviews of each event.
200m: With only the second leg having the 200 sprint event, it was the non regulars of the dash taking a go at each other. With 400m winner from the 1st leg, Rajiv Akoria and the 100m winner Bala Murugan in fray, Haryana’s Bhartinder Singh sprung in a surprise, clinching the Gold medal and recording 21.66 seconds!
400m: Two hours later, Rajiv Arokia was back in action in his favourite event, yet again beating veterans Kunhi Mohammed and Mortaza to grab the podium. Rajiv’s 47.22 seconds was better than his first leg effort of 47.55 seconds.
800m: Poor timings were recorded in this mid distance race. With Manjit Singh and Pranjal Gogoi taking the 1-2 spots but with the best of 1:52.55 seconds. Manjit has it in him to go below the 1:50s mark and that’s what should be on his mind than anything else. As said previously, the 800s is the final front with respect to national records and we are well off the time set by the legendary Ram Singh some 37 years ago!
3000m: Ideally, this should have been a steeple chase event considering Moscow 2013 but nonetheless, Rajasthan’s Khetaram and Syresh Patel, representing ONGC, ran in tandem to register a close finish within one tenth of a second of each other!
400m hurdles: Jithin Paul clinched back to back GP titles in the long distance hurdles and inched ever closer to the the 50 seconds mark, recording 51.72s. Jithin should qualify for the Worlds at Moscow if he improves with the same rate.
Long Jump: Arshad’s dominance from the 1st leg was challenged by Bhartinder Singh , and it was some challenge! Bhartinder’s second jump of 7.33 straight away got him ahead of Arshad’s 7.29. Then followed an improved performance by Bhartinder at 7.54m which was even better than Arshad’s first leg show of 7.36m. It was time to for the champion to perform and a 7.51 and a 7.46 jump in his penultimate attempt meant we had gone right down to the wire. In the final attempt, Arshad leaped close to his personal best and recorded 7.56m, and importantly, 0.2 meters better of Bhartinder! It just shows how good competition can get the best out of you.
Triple Jump: Arpinder Singh crossed the 16m mark and in fact reached 16.46m, which is good news. Renjit Maheshwari, as usual, tried various techniques and was fouled 4 times but managed an improved performance of 16.78m. He is getting there, back to the 17m mark, where he belongs.
Shot Put: Om Prakash threw 18.65m, better than his first leg throw of 18.12m. He should now ideally enter the 19 meters in the third leg and possibly breach the 20m mark at the Federation Cup. Fingers crossed!
Javelin Throw: These are exciting times in the Javelin throw event as the trio of Devendra, Dinesh and Samarjith have consistently thrown above 70 meters. Javelin throw has never been India’s strength, but some stellar performances and a possible 80 meter wide throw can just get things rolling.
200m: Asha Roy got the better of Merlin Joseph and took revenge for her 100m loss in the first leg. Such kind of healthy rivalry will surely deliver good results from these two young girls in the sprints. Another showdown to look out in the near future.
400m: Karnataka’s MR Poovamma, representing ONGC, raced past defending champion Anju Thomas from the first leg and clocked 53.59 seconds. Poovamma had clinched top spots in 2012 Fed Cup and Grand Prix.
800m: In the absense of Tintu Luka, Tamil Nadu’s Gomathi clinched back to back Golds in the mid distance event.
Long Jump: Neena V, representing Railways, came close to crossing the 6m mark but could finally manage 5.95m only!
Overall, it was an encouraging set of results, with Renjit Maheshwari being just seven hundreth of a meter from the Moscow World Championship qualifying cut-off and Rajiv Akoria, Jithin Paul and Arshad displaying encouraging performances along with the trio in Javelin and the duo of Asha Roy and Merlin Joseph in women’s sprints. We now look forward to the final leg of the Indian Grand Prix with high hopes.