Steeplechaser Avinash Sable and long jumper M Sreeshankar warmed up for the World Championships later this month with gold-winning performances on the concluding day of the 59th National Inter-State Athletics Championships at Lucknow on Friday, PTI reported.
The day also saw a rather hilarious turn of events during the men’s 4x400m relay final when Muhammed Anas, one of the members of the main Indian quartet representing AFI-A, took the baton from a runner of AFI-B after his teammate Alex Antony pulled out 200m into the third leg due to a muscle problem.
Anas was running the final leg and he picked up the baton of the AFI-team B member who ran at the third leg – Sajin.
The AFI-A team of Amoj Jacob, Noah Tom, Antony and Anas took part in the 4x400m relay in a bid to improve their timing. The team is currently at 16th and last place for a qualification spot of the World Championships to be held in Doha from September 28 to October 6. In the official result, the AFI-A team was shown as DNF (Did Not Finish) while the AFI-B team was disqualified.
The 24-year-old Sable of Maharashtra, placed 25th at the IAAF world rankings, ran at a comfortable pace to claim the gold with a meet record time of 8:33.19. He could have challenged his own national record of 8:28.94 but the humidity was of little help, despite his event being scheduled as the last on the track.
The World Championships qualifying mark for men’s 3000m steeplechase is 8:29.00 and Sable has already qualified for the showpiece event.
Sreesankar hit sand at 7.83m on his second jump and raised hopes that he would go past the 8-metre mark. The 20-year-old made a massive effort in his final jump but disappointingly over-stepped ro see the red flag being raised.
The Kerala long jumper, who has a personal best of 8.20m, has also already qualified for the World Championships, for which which the required mark is 8.17m.
Tamil Nadu’s women’s sprint quartet held its own by setting the other meet record. Dhana Lakshmi, R Nithya Ramraj, V Revathi and Archana Suseendran combined to finish the 4x100m relay in 45.69 seconds, improving on the 45.96 set by the Kerala team in 1997.
Sprinter Dutee Chand of Odisha also failed in her attempt to touch the World Championships standard in the women’s 100m. She won the race in 11.38 seconds, 0.14 seconds slower than the target time of 11.24. She is, however, likely make it to Doha as she is currently inside the target number – 48 – of competitors in women’s 100m in the World Championships.
Except for Anjali Devi, who won gold in women’s 400m on Friday, none could touch the World Championships mark in any other event during the four-day championships.
Anjali was adjudged the best female athlete while Iran’s Mahdi Pirijahan, who won the 400m hurdles, was named the best male athlete. Kerala was declared the overall champions as well as the men’s and women’s champion team of the event.