Dutee and four others breach Asian Games qualifying mark on opening day
By Philem Dipak Singh
Guwahati, June 26 (PTI) Five athletes, including top sprinter Dutee Chand of Odisha, breached the qualifying marks in their respective events as the 58th National Inter State Senior Athletics Championships began with a bang here today.
Dutee, who recently fought and won a 'gender' case against the international federation at the Court of Arbitration for Sports, clocked 23:46 seconds in one of the heats to qualify for the final round of the women's 200m race, which placed her in contention for an Asian Games berth.
The AFI has set a qualifying standard of 23:50 seconds for this event.
AFI secretary C K Valson said selection can be done on the basis of performance in heats.
"My main event is 100m but I am happy to have done well in 200m also. I hope to win 200m final also," Dutee said after the race.
"It would have been ideal had the 100m event was held before the 200m as is the norm in international events but I cannot do much. My job is to run races," she added.
But it will not be easy for Dutee in the final round tomorrow as local star and fast rising Hima Das also qualified along with another Odisha athlete Srabani Nanda.
Hima, who ran 23.22 in Poland during a training-cum-exposure trip earlier this month, finished second in her heat behind Reena George of Karnataka (24.00) as she did not exert herself much in the final stretch for a 24.02 effort under humid conditions in the morning session at the Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium.
Hima is the brand ambassador of this meet.
Another Odisha athlete, Jauna Murmu, who was banned for two years in the 2011 doping scandal, won the women's 400m hurdles in meet record timing of 57.02 seconds, better than the AFI qualifying time of 57.52.
Anu Raghavan of Kerala took the silver in 57.68 while Gujarat's Saritaben Gayakwad bagged the bronze in 58.01.
"I could have run better but for the heaviness of the track due to this slight rain. I had thought of running below 56. Overall, it is a good race. I will try to run below 56 in the Asian Games and hopefully win a medal for the country," said the 27-year-old Murmu, who took part in the 2010 Asian Games also.
Asked how she motivated herself to come out of the doping scandal and resume her carrier, she said, "Initially, I was not hoping of doing anything big but slowly I got myself back to earlier form. I have left the episode behind and looking forward to win medals for the country."
In men's 400m hurdles, all the three podium finishers -- Dharun Ayyasamy (49.68 secs) of Tamil Nadu, Santosh Kumar (50.10) of AFI and Jashanjot Singh (50.64) of Punjab -- ran below the qualifying time of 50.80, but only two will be picked for the Asian Games team.
"Except for the host country, a country can send only two athletes in each event," Valson said.
Surprisingly, dope samples of the top finishers were not immediately taken after their races, but Valson said the NADA officials will do the needful before the end of the day's proceedings.
"The NADA officials are here and they will take the dope samples," he said.
None of the sample collectors were seen escorting the top finishers immediately after the race to lead them to the sample collection room.
The National Inter State Senior National Championships serves as the selection trial for the Asian Games team. India has been given a quota of 102 (52 men and 50 women) for the Asian Games