In the last one year, Dharun Ayyasamy had broken the 400 m hurdles’ national record twice. First at the Federation Cup and then at the Asian Games in August in Jakarta. On both occasions, he was surprised that he was able to break the record.
That feeling was once again replicated on Saturday as he broke the national record once again by clicking a time of 48.80 seconds at the Federation Cup at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala.
He bettered his previous record of 48.93 seconds which he had achieved at the Jakarta Games. The timing on Saturday was good enough to qualify for the September World Championships as he had already qualified for the Asian Championships.
Had he achieved the timing after May 1, he could have also qualified for the Tokyo Olympics as the event’s direct qualification mark is 48.90 seconds.
The 22-year-old was surprised that he managed to qualify for the World Championships from this event.
“The focus was to qualify for the Asian Championships only and that I did in the second Grand Prix,” he said. “I had thought of qualifying for Worlds from Doha but it’s good that I did it here.”
Dharun’s timing was 1.33 seconds better than Jabir MP of Kerala who took the silver medal and qualified for the Asian Championships with a timing of 49.53 seconds. The bronze medal went to M Ramachandran of Tamil Nadu with a timing of 50.57 seconds.
Dharun dominated the race from the beginning and won the race with a comfortable timing despite struggling with a hamstring problem.
“10 days before this I was not feeling well. I even told my coach that I am having a problem but he said that you have already qualified, so don’t worry about Fed Cup timing.
“So I am not nervous during the race. If I am told that you have to bring a certain time in training, I am nervous but not here,” he said.
The second day of the competition saw a total of five athletes make the qualifying mark for Asian Championships in different events.
The most surprising was 17-year-old Praveen Chitravel qualifying in the triple jump after leaping 16.51 meters to book his ticket to Doha. He managed to claim the gold medal in a field which also included Asian Games champion Arprinder.
Apart from qualifying for the Doha event, he also broke the junior national record which was earlier held by Arprinder. His gold medal at his first Federation Cup came after a change in technique which saw him increase his speed on the run-up.
“I found it difficult with the increased speed but as soon as I concentrated on speed and landing perfectly, it went well,” he said.
Arpinder failed to finish on the podium as he was pipped by Mohammad Zuber of Uttar Pradesh and Mohammad Salahuddin of Tamil Nadu. While Zuber had a best jump of 16.38m, Salahuddin beat Arpinder by recording a jump of 16.36m.
Another field event which saw a high level of competition was the men’s javelin throw in which Shivpal Singh claimed the gold medal with a throw of 82.56 m – a personal best. He had already qualified for the Asian Championships on Friday with a throw of 81.48 m in the qualifying round.
Vipin Kasana of Delhi also met the qualification standard of 80.75 m for the Doha event with throw of 81.23 m. Kasana claimed the silver medal while former national record holder Ranjinder Singh won the bronze with a throw of 79.75 m.
The women’s 400 m hurdles also saw two athletes meeting the Athletics Federation of India standards of 57.50 seconds for Asian Championships. Saritaben Gayakwad of Gujarat would set a new meet record in the race, winning with a time of 57.21 seconds. Arpitha M of Karnataka followed closely behind Gayakwad, stopping the clock at 57.45 seconds. Jauna Murmu won the bronze medal with a time of 57.58.
While Asian Games gold and silver medallists Manjit Chahal and Jinson Johnson were expected to qualify, it ended in disappointment as both failed to meet the qualifying standard. While Johnson ended with a gold medal, Manjit failed to finish on the podium.
But two athletes in women’s 800 m qualified for the Doha meet. Gomathi Marimuthu of Tamil Nadu and Twinkle Chaudhary of Punjab with timings of 2.03.21 while and 2.03.67 respectively. Both times were well under the qualification standard of 2.05.00.