All you need is a little push to test your limit. The tougher the competition, the better the results, and no matter how clichéd it may sound, in athletics, it's an axiom players live with.
India's Ranjith Maheswary rolled over after hitting the pit but jumped on his feet quickly clenching his fists. He waived to the crowd. He knew he had lunged the farthest at the Asian Grand Prix-II Series here on Saturday.
There were no markings on the pit, yet he knew he had touched 17 metres. "A little push is what you need," Maheswary said later. This was his best performance of the season --- and the best since the national record of 17.04 in 2007.
"This is what happens if you get into a rhythm," he said, peeling off loads of adhesive tape from his feet. "Little niggles," he explained. His ankles hurt when he was getting ready for the final thrust. "It happens. There's pain, but as long as it does not affect your performance, it's OK."
Though Maheswary cleared 16.98m in his second attempt, he couldn't breathe easy as Kazakhstan's Roman Veliyev had touched 16.93m.
With adrenaline pumping and legs working like pistons, he focussed on the track. Jump events are all about getting into a rhythm and getting everything right --- from strides to the final thrust. A little miss here and there can be catastrophic. With the crowd rooting for him and an opponent breathing down his neck, he found that elusive push and hurled himself to 17m in the fourth attempt.
"Anything above 17m is good. It's all in the head. If you have the confidence of breaking the 17m barrier, you can go further," said Maheswary who now has 17.5m on mind. "My best last year was 16.73m. With the Commonwealth and the Asian Games later this year, such performances will give me confidence." Veliyev collected silver and Wo Bu of China, with a distance of 16.92m, bagged the bronze.
National record in 4x100
India's quartet of Mola Rahmatulla, Abdul Najee Quereshi, Sameer Mon and Ritesh Anand created a National record in 4x100m when Ritesh touched the tape at 39.23. Though the team finished with a silver behind Chinese-Taipei, it seemed satisfied. The quartet bettered the record of 39.36 created in the Busan Asian Games in 2002.
Best of the best
Buoyed by fine weather, athletes here came up with some of their best performances of the season. If China's Yu Zhengwei set a meet record in long jump, touching 8.12m --- a meet record --- Krishna Poonia hurled the discus to 61.64m, her best effort in India this season.
"If she can perform like this at the Commonwealth Games, she will win a medal," said her husband and coach Virender Poonia. The other two medals in women's discus went to Harwant Kaur (silver) and Seema Antil (bronze).
One man despite collecting a gold was not happy. "It's not about the medal, my timing has to be good," said India's quartermiler Sheikh Mortaza. The 29-year-old Services man, who started his sporting career playing football and is supporting Argentina in the upcoming World Cup, said, "It was not until 2004 that I started running 400m," His timing was 47.38s. Nelson Stone of Papua New Guinea and Kunhu Muhammed P. of India won silver and bronze respectively.
Personal best for Prujusha
In the Indian Grand Prix, MA Prujusha leaped to her personal best in long jump when she cleared 6.55m --- fourth Indian to cross the 6.50m mark after Anju Bobby George, JJ Shobha and Pramila Aiyappa.
Mayookhi Johny and Reshmi Bose also set their personal best with jumps of 6.49m and 6.46m respectively. This is also the first time three athletes have crossed 6.40 in the event.