Heptathletes G Pramila and Sushmita Singha Roy pushed each other to the limit on the second day of the National Jumps and Combined Events competition here to attain the qualifying marks and secure berths in the Beijing-bound squad. With J.J. Shobha already clearing the ‘A’ mark, India will be sending three heptathletes at the quadrennial event.
In the last event — 800m — both athletes needed to clock 2:20 minutes to make the grade. Pramila notched up an aggregate score of 6078, while Sushmita finished with 6027 points.
This will be the second Olympic Games for Pramila, who has also participated in the 2000 Sydney Games. Sushmita will be participating in her maiden Games.
Sushmita’s coach Kuntal Roy was happy despite her ward finishing behind Pramila. “The target was to qualify, having come so close twice. So, in the 800m, I told her to just go at a steady pace.”
In fact, Sushmita hardly came close to her personal bests in all the three events — long jump, javelin and 800m — on Friday but a strong performance on the first day ensured that she was never under pressure.
“It was one of those days when I was not at my best. But I have qualified and so it doesn't matter now,” said the 23-year-old.
For Pramila, the performance was all the more heartening, as the 30-year-old had missed out on the Athens Olympics berth by just three points. “Because of the last edition’s experience, I was anxious till the end. After the javelin, I knew the berth was very much in my grasp but the nervousness was still there.”
Anju Bobby George wins
Anju Bobby George had little trouble winning the long jump event. The 2002 World Championship bronze-medallist clinched the issue with her first jump of 6.55m.
Women, Heptathlon: G. Pramila 6,078; Sushmita Singh Roy 6,027; Shinimole 4,848. Long jump: Anju. Bobby George 6.55m, Mayokha John 6.35, Rashmi Bose 5.83. Men, Triple Jump: Amarjith Singh 16.37m; Malikith Singh 15.57, R. Manigandan 14.42.