Image Credits: @AFI
S Dhanalakshmi (Tamil Nadu), who stunned Dutee Chand in the 100m final on Tuesday, emerged as the sprinter to beat in the women's 200m, clocking a Meet Record time of 23.26 seconds in the women's 200m semifinals in the 24th National Federation Cup Senior Athletics Championships at the Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports on Thursday.
Her victory over Hima Das (Assam) who clocked 24.39 seconds in the semifinal heats lifted her to the top 10 of Indian all-time list. Archana Suseendran (Tamil Nadu) won her semifinal heats in 24.07 seconds to raise expectations of a good final. It must be stated that both Hima Das (23.10) and Archana Suseendran (23.18) have faster times than the one blazed by Dhanalakshmi on Thursday.
Her time broke PT Usha's long-standing meet record of 23.30 seconds seconds set in Chennai in 1998. Having run 24.05 seconds when finishing third in the Federation Cup here two years ago, she recorded a 23.47 in the Tamil Nadu State Championships in Sivakasi on January 24, thus making it the second time she was dipping in under 23.50 seconds.
Returning to competition after a long break, Swapna Barman won the Heptathlon with a total of 5636 points, her 1.82m High Jump making up for the 2:29.98 in the 800m. Mareena George (Kerala) finished second, a poor shot put performance denying her a shot at beating the 2018 Asian Games champion in the gruelling seven-event challenge.
The front-running Krishan Kumar (Haryana) beat back a stiff challenge over the last 100m by Ankesh Chaudhary (Himachal Pradesh) in the men's 800m. Those trailing Krishan Kumar at the bell may have been expected him to slow down but he chugged on. Ankesh Chaudhary stepped up the pace and even held the lead for a brief while on the home straight but he could not power on.
Delhi's Chanda won the women's 800m in a personal best time of 2 minutes 2.57 seconds. It was the fastest time clocked by an Indian woman since Tintu Luka's 2:00.58 in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 17, 2016. It was a brave start-to-finish effort by Chanda, but she finished outside the Olympic Games qualification mark set at 1:59.50.
Lili Das (Bengal) moved up from sixth place with 150m left and timed her shift to the outside lane to a nicety to be able to slip past MR Poovamma (Karnataka) with only a few strides left for the finish. It was Lili Das' personal best time, too, the 2:02.98 improving on the 2:03.46 that she clocked in Guntur in July 2017. Poovamma (2:03.35) also earned her personal best.
In fact, with Rachna (Haryana), Shalu Chaudhary (Delhi) and Aishwarya Mishra (Maharashtra) also clocking their best times, the women's half-mile saw the top six runners attain new peaks respectively.
Talking of personal bests, Gracena Glistus Mery (Tamil Nadu) attained one with a 1.84m effort to win the women's High Jump. The 20-year-old cleared that height on her second attempt after having needed three tries to cross the bar when it was placed at 1.81m. Her previous best of 1.79m was achieved in the University trials in Bhubaneshwar on March 8.
The last time an Indian woman jumped higher than Gracena Mery's 1.84m was back on June 3, 2017 when heptathlete Swapna Barman cleared 1.87m. The girl from Kanyakumari thus becomes the latest Indian high jumper to join the 1.80m club. Her clearance drew gasps since it was the height that was good for bronze medal in the Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018.
The results (finals):
800m: 1. Krishan Kumar (Haryana) 1:48.48; 2. Ankesh Chaudhary (Himachal Pradesh) 1:48.65; 3. Annu Kumar (Uttarakhand) 1:49.25.
Pole Vault: 1. Prashanth Kanhiya (Hayana) 5.10m; 2. Lakshay (Haryana) 5.05; 3. EB Anas (Kerala) 4.90.
Discus Throw: 1. Kirpal Singh (Punjab) 59.04m; 2. Vazeer (Haryana) 56.40; 3. Abhinav (Haryana) 55.79.
800m: 1. Chanda (Delhi) 2:02.57; 2. Lili Das (West Bengal) 2:02.98; 3. MR Poovamma (Karnataka) 2:03.35.
High Jump: 1. Gracena Glistus Mery (Tamil Nadu) 1.84m; 2. Rekha (Haryana) 1.75; 3. Gigi George Stephen (Tamil Nadu) 1.70.
Triple Jump: 1. Renu (Haryana) 13.39m; 2. B Aishwarya (Karnataka) 13.16; 3. R Aishwarya (Tamil Nadu) 13.05.
Hammer Throw: 1. 1. Sarita R Singh (Uttar Pradesh) 56.62m; 2. Jyoti Jakhar (Haryana) 54.97; 3. Rekha Singh (Uttarakhand) 53.99.
Heptathlon: 1. Swapna Barman (West Bengal) 5636 points (100mH: 14.61 seconds; HJ: 1.82m; SP: 12.29m; 200m: 26.75 seconds; LJ: 5.86m; JT: 48.26m; 800m: 2:29.98); 2. Mareena George (Kerala) 5516; 3. Sonu Kumari (Haryana) 5050.