The much-awaited 100m face-off between India's top two women's sprinters, Hima Das and Dutee Chand, did not materialize at the Indian Grand Prix II in Patiala on Thursday. But both came away with gold medals from the competition as Hima Das won the 200m race while Dutee Chand prevailed in 100m.
The Assamese sprinter clocked 23.31 seconds in 200m to make a triumphant return from injury. It was, however, not enough to meet the Olympic qualifying mark, which was set at 22.80 seconds.
This was the first competition in nearly two years for Hima Das. A back injury had cut short her season in 2019 before the tour shut down because of the pandemic. Having fully recovered now, the former world junior champion is now raring to go and looking to secure a berth at the Tokyo Olympics.
Hima Das made a late pullout from the 100m race, which was dominated by Dutee Chand.
Dutee was also unable to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, but her timing has been steadily improving. After a year of no competition due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Odisha athlete had clocked 11.51 seconds in the first leg of the Indian Grand Prix last week. In the second leg, the national record holder put up an improved performance to record 11.44 seconds. She is still way below her own national record of 11.22 seconds.
For a direct qualification to Tokyo, Dutee needs to clock 11.15 seconds or below.
Rajiv Arokia upsets Muhammed Anas at Indian Grand Prix II
On the men's side, national record holder Muhammed Anas Yahiya suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of Rajiv Arokia. While the latter clocked 21.24 seconds to take the gold, the Asian Games silver medallist could only manage 21.44 seconds.
The Indian Grand Prix II was Anas' first competition in a year as he had skipped the first leg.
In 100m, Maharashtra's Krishna Kumar stood on the top podium with a timing of 10.71s. He held off the challenge of Amiya Mallick, who finished in 10.74 seconds.
Tajinderpal, Annu Rani win gold at Indian Grand Prix II
In the field events, Asian Games champion Neeraj Chopra was supposed to be one of the biggest attractions. But he pulled out and is likely to participate in the third leg of the Indian Grand Prix.
In his absence, the men's javelin gold went to Haryana's Sahil Silwal for a throw of 77.40m.
In the women's section, Asian Games bronze medallist Annu Rani threw the javelin to a distance of 61.22m to capture the gold. Rani has just recovered from an ankle injury and is slowly getting back to form as she sets her sights on the Olympic qualifying mark of 64m.
Asian Games shot put gold medallist Tajinderpal Singh Toor looked rusty after the long break. He could only hurl the shot put to a distance of 19.49m, which was way below his national record of 20.92m. Even though it fetched him the Indian Grand Prix II gold, Toor has a lot of hard work ahead of him. To punch a Tokyo ticket, he has to achieve the qualifying mark of 21.10m.
In the men's long jump, the 21-year-old national record holder Murali Sreeshankar grabbed the gold with his last attempt of 8.05m.
The Indian Grand Prix II was the second of the four-leg domestic athletic events which are serving as qualifiers for the Tokyo Olympics. While the first leg was held on February 18, the upcoming third leg will be held on March 5. The Indian Grand Prix will culminate on June 15 with the final leg.