Inter-State Athletics: Kerala long jumpers Sreeshankar, Ancy bag gold

M Sreeshankar
M Sreeshankar produced his fourth career-best effort of 8.29m to easily win the gold. File photo: Twitter@afiindia

Bhubaneswar: Kerala's star long jumper M Sreeshankar produced his fourth career-best effort of 8.29m to easily win the gold in the men's category on the concluding day of the National Inter-State Championships here.

In the women's category, Ancy Sojan beat India number one Shaili Singh of Uttar Pradesh for the women's long jump gold. The 22-year-old Sojan had a best of 6.51m which she achieved in the fifth round.

The 24-year-old Sreeshankar achieved his best of the day in the second round after opening with 8.03m. His next four jumps were fouls.

Jeswin Aldrin of Tamil Nadu was second on Monday with a best effort of 7.98m. He also breached the Asian Games qualifying mark of 7.95m.

Sreeshankar, the third Indian Diamond League medal winner after securing a bronze in the Paris leg earlier this month, had jumped his personal best of 8.41m -- and just one cm shy of Aldrin's national record of 8.42m -- during the qualification round on Sunday to qualify for the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary in August.

He had also produced jumps of 8.36m during the Federation Cup last year and 8.31m in a competition in Greece a month later.

Earlier this season, Sreeshankar had 8.29m in the USA in April but that had come with a wind assistance of +3.1m/s speed, not permissible for record purposes.

"I have won the gold but I am not happy with my performance, I would have jumped a longer distance," he told PTI after his event.

"I have jumped 8.29m, 8.36m and 8.31m in Europe (last year), so it depends on the day. My next competition is the Lausanne Diamond League (on June 30) and then the World Championships."

In the women's category, Shaili, who was leading till the fourth round, had a best of 6.49m from her second jump. Both qualified for the Asian Games after breaching the qualifying mark of 6.45m.

"It was an average performance and it was a bit of my fault. I was very aggressive in the first three jumps and that consumed a lot of energy for the remaining three attempts," Sojan, who has a personal best of 6.56m, said.

Ancy Sojan
I was a memorable outing for Ancy Sojan. File photo: AFP/Ben Stansall

"I was competing with myself and not with anybody. I just wanted to give my best. It was an experience for the future."

Shaili, who recorded her personal best of 6.76m earlier this year, said she needs to work on the runway and take off.

"I left a lot behind (the board) in the first jump. I have to work a lot on the runway and take off. If I do that, I will be able to jump longer. That will be my focus now," said Shaili.

Shot putter Toor smashes own Asian record

India's top shot putter Tajinder Pal Toor on Monday shattered his own Asian record with a huge throw of 21.77m, qualifying for the World Championships.

The 28-year-old Toor, representing Punjab, bettered his own Asian record of 21.49m, which he had set in 2021 at Patiala, with his third-round throw of 21.77m -- the ninth-longest distance in the world this season -- at the Kalinga Stadium.

The World Championships qualifying mark is 21.40m.

He also qualified for the Asian Games for which the qualifying mark is 19m.

Toor, the reigning Asian Games gold medallist, began with a bang as he cleared the 20m mark straightway with his opening throw of 21.09m. His second throw was a foul before he produced the Asian record-breaking effort. He then had two fouls before passing the final attempt.

Toor's Punjab statement Karanveer Singh finished second with a throw of 19.78m to also qualify for the Asian Games, while Jyothi Yarraji, who won gold medals in 100m and 100m hurdles, was named the best female athlete.

Tajinder Pal Toor
India's top shot putter Tajinder Pal Toor shattered his own Asian record with a huge throw of 21.77m. File photo: IANS

"My training had gone as per plan and I was prepared to go past the 21m barrier, an elated Toor said.

"My next plan is to break the 22m barrier."

In javelin throw, three athletes -- Rohit Yadav of Uttar Pradesh, Kishore Kumar Jena of Odisha and Shivpal Singh, also of Uttar Pradesh, breached the Asian Games qualifying mark of 78.23m.

Rohit sent the spear to 83.28m in his first throw for his best of the day, while Kishore and Shivpal came up with 82.87m and 81.96m respectively.

"I had been consistent with 80m-plus for some time but I am not reaching 85m. I am just thinking when that will happen. So, let us see in the coming events. I am hoping to be in the World Championships also," said Rohit, who is on the 18th spot out of 36 competitors in the Road to Budapest chart of World Athletics.

"The inspiration Neeraj Chopra has given us is immense. We have many 80m-plus throwers now and so the competition is tough. It is a matter of time that some of us cross that 85m mark (to be among the world's elite)."

Kishore also said that Chopra's Olympic gold and his exploits on the global stage had made fellow Indian athletes confident and fearless on the international stage.

Delhi's promising middle-distance runner KM Chanda out-duelled her more fancied runner Harmilan Bains to win the women's 800m race.

In an exciting sprint finish, the top three runners achieved the Hangzhou Asian Games qualification time of 2:04.57 seconds. However, it was Chanda who stole the limelight by winning gold with a time of 2:03.82 seconds.

Harmilan clocked 2:04.04 seconds while Madhya Pradesh's KM Deeksha won bronze with a time of 2:04.35 seconds.

Chanda also won bronze in the women's 1500m event.

There was an intense battle for gold in the women's 400m hurdles. Both R Vithya Ramraj (56.01sec) of Tamil Nadu and Sinchal Kaveramma (56.76secs) of Karnataka, winner of gold and silver respectively, dipped below the Asian Games qualification time of 57.48 seconds.

India's Birmingham Commonwealth Games bronze medallist in women's javelin throw, Annu Rani, also booked a berth for the Asian Games. Her gold medal-winning throw of 58.22m was better than the Asian Games qualification mark of 56.46m. It was Annu's second domestic competition of this season and she was hopeful of improving her performance in the next event.

"I should be able to cross the 60m mark at next month's Asian Athletics Championship in Bangkok," she said.

Haryana's 16-year-old Pooja scaled 1.80m to win gold in the women's high jump and equal the Asian Games qualifying mark of 1.80m.

Assam's Amlan Borgohain sprinted home to win gold in the men's 200m. His performance of 20.71 seconds was better than the old meet record of 20.80 secs, but he fell short of the Asian Games qualification time of 20.61 secs.

(With PTI inputs)

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