Image Credits: @AFI
Ayush Dabas (Haryana) handled the unfamiliar pressure of being in the limelight with a dominant 47.38 seconds sprint to top the list of 24 runners who earned berths in the men's semifinals in the third AFI National Open 400m Championships at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Monday evening.
Surendar S Selvamani (Tamil Nadu) sustained his pace to inch ahead of Nitin Kumar (Uttar Pradesh) after a thrilling contest in another heats that held the attention of the onlookers, Surender Selvamani (48.45 seconds) and Nitin Kumar (48.58) were the fastest among the seven runners who broke the 49-second barrier behind Ayush Dabas in the men's heats.
The 16-year-old Rupal (Uttar Pradesh), a member of the Indian team that competed in the World Athletics U20 Championships in Nairobi, laid down the gauntlet in the Girls U18 heats, winning the opening race in 56.13 seconds. The next fastest qualifier for the final, Jyoti Rani, was a good 3.08 seconds behind her Uttar Pradesh-team-mate.
Rajasthan's Rahul Kumar Githala, winner of the West Zone Boys U18 title in Raipur earlier this year, caught the eye in the Boys U18 heats, clocking the fastest time of 48.77 seconds while Arman Ahmed (Delhi and A Suraj (Tamil Nadu) were the others who came home inside 50 seconds.
Pankaj (Rajasthan) was the fastest qualifier in the Boys U20 category, winning his heats in 48.97 seconds while Jammu and Kashmir's Abrar Choudhary, who finished second in that race, took the credit for being the second fastest among the 20 starters on Monday evening. The Girls U20
Karnataka's Rihan C H topped the Boys U16 semifinalists by blazing home in 49.31 seconds. Uttar Pradesh's Himanshu Rathi made the most of the pace provided by the Karnataka lad and was the only other runner in the category to breach the 51-second mark.
Priyanka Olekar (Karnataka) led 24 Girls U16 runners into the semifinals with a 58.97 second lap. Kanista Teena (Tamil Nadu) who clocked 59.08 seconds in winning her heats was the only other runner among the 43 starters in the category to stop the clock inside a minute. Uttar Pradesh's Tanvi Malik was the third fastest qualifier in 1:00.02.