In first competition after four years, Anjali wins 400m gold in stunning race

Bhubaneswar, Jun 16 (PTI) Haryana’s Anjali Devi ran a stunning personal best time in her first competition in four years to win the women’s 400m gold and secure a place in the Asian Games on the second day of the National Inter-State Championship here on Friday.

Coming back after a long injury layoff, the 24-year-old Anjali, who last ran a 400m race in October 2019 at the Indian Open Championships in Ranchi, clocked 51.48 seconds to beat the up-and-coming Haimashi Malik (51.76), also of Haryana, for the gold medal at the Kalinga Stadium.

Anjali, whose earlier personal best was the 51.53 she had clocked in Lucknow, left behind the Asian Games qualifying time of 52.96 seconds by nearly one and a half second.

The 21-year-old Malik, as well as the bronze winner R Vithya Ramraj (52.49) of Tamil Nadu and fourth place finisher Aishwarya Kailash Mishra (52.79) of Maharashtra, all ran below the Asian Games qualifying time. But, only two of the four will be selected as a country can send just two participants per event.

“I have been injured for the last 3-4 years and I used to sustain injury whenever a competition came. It was an emotional 3-4 years. I was having depression. I qualified for the Tokyo Olympics but a few months before the Games, my quad muscles were completely torn,” Anjali said after the race.

“I can improve my timing a lot, because I am taking part here after four-five weeks of training at the national camp. I am completely recovered. I will do hard work at the national camp and do well in the Asian Games and Olympics. I can run 49.9 if I remain injury free and do hard training.” In the morning session Anjali had run 52.03 in the semifinal heats while she had clocked 52.89 in the heats round one on Thursday. All the three races she had run, after recovering from a serious injury she had sustained in 2019, bettered the Asian Games qualifying mark.

Four Indian quarter-milers running below 53 seconds augurs well for the country’s hopes of winning six straight Asian Games gold in women’s 4x400m relay since 2002.

More than a dozen athletes made the cut for the Asian Games scheduled to be held in Hanghzou, China from September 23 to October 8.

In the men’s 400m, Sri Lankan Kalinga Kumarage of Sri Lanka won gold, clocking 45.64 seconds, while national record holder Muhammed Anas Yahiya of Kerala, who has also suffered injuries in recent times, clinched silver with a time of 45.76.

Muhammed Ajmal, also of Kerala, and Amoj Jacob of Delhi were third and fourth with times of 45.90 and 45.91.

All the four top finishers bettered the Asian Games qualifying time of 46.17, which like in the case of women, is good news for the Indian men’s 4x400m relay.

Few athletes from Sri Lanka and Maldives are taking part in the championship.

B Shiba Kumar of Tamil Nadu emerged as the fastest man of the championship as he clocked 10.37 second to win the 100m dash while Harjit Singh (10.45) of Punjab and Elakkiyadasan K, of Tamil Nadu, were second and third respectively.

None of them could come close to the 10.19 second qualifying time for the Asian Games.

Chennai-based Kumar, son of a builder father and homemaker mother, trains without any coach at the Nehru Stadium in the southern metropolis. His friends and senior athletes help him in his training methods. He has never been to a national camp.

“I fund myself from my monthly salary (earned from Integral Coach Factory in Chennai). That is not enough but I have to manage with that. You need a lot of money for running shoes, kits and diet. But I don’t have any sponsor and sometimes I take financial help from my friends,” Kumar said.

“I have been training alone since 2021 and my 10 years of experience (as an athlete) helps. My friends and senior athletes also help in my training schedule. I have been winning medals in domestic events in the last 5-6 years,” said Kumar who has not taken part in any international event.

Jyothi Yarraji of Andhra Pradesh, the national record holder in 100m hurdles, became the fastest woman of the championship as she ran her personal best time of 11.46 seconds to win gold in 100m dash.

She came close to touching the 10.46 second qualifying time for the Asian Games, which showed how she has improved her timing in the 100m.

Experienced sprinter Srabani Nanda of Odisha was second with a time of 11.59 while Himashree Roy of Haryana took the bronze with a time of 11.71.

Four athletes also bettered the Asian Games qualifying time in the women’s 1500m race won by KM Deeksha of Madhya Pradesh who ran 4:06.07sec.

National record holder Harmilan Bains, representing Punjab, was pushed to second, clocking 4:08.50 while Chanda of Delhi took the bronze with a time of 4:09.39. Pooja of Haryana was fourth with a time of 4:09.52.

In the men’s two-lap race, Krishan Kumar of Haryana won gold, clocking 1:46.17secs, and bettered the Asian Games qualification time of 1:49.05.

In the women’s 3000m steeplechase, Parul Chaudhary of Uttar Pradesh broke the meet record, clocking 9:34.23sec while winning the gold. She also bettered the Asian Games qualifying time of 9:47.00. The old meet record of 9:39.59 was in the name of Sudha Singh.

In the morning session, Haryana’s Juned Khan won the men’s 35km race walk event, while Manju Rani of Punjab took home the gold in the women’s corresponding event.

Veteran Seema Punia of Uttar Pradesh won gold in women’s discus throw with an effort of 56.50 metres, falling just short of Asian Games qualifying mark of 57 metres.

Source: PTI News


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