Personal best timings, a slippery circle, an all-Indian field in discus at an Asian All-Star Athletics meet were the highlights of the test event being hosted at the swanky Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Thursday.
A long jumper can measure her distance, almost to the last centimetre, as soon as he or she is airborne. On Thursday, as soon as Mayookha Johney landed and rolled on her sides, she clenched her fist and celebrated in her own muted way. She knew she had touched a distance not too many Indian woman have touched before - 6.64m. And her next target is to touch 6.70m, a distance that only Anju Bobby George has cleared.
So is she ready to take over the mantle from Anju? "Yes," she says confidently. "If everything goes alright and according to our plan, I should be crossing 6.70m by the end of the season." But she very well knows how much a jumper has to endure to better her jump even by a centimetre.
Mayookha's leap, on a sultry evening at the newly laid tracks of the main venue of the Commonwealth Games, has been a result of her perseverance and will to succeed on the highest stage. Dogged by an ankle injury, the lanky 22-year-old from Kerela was out of action for more than one and a half years till she made her comeback in 2010.
This season, however, has been a revelation for her. "I am quite happy with the progress I have made this season," said a beaming Mayookha who is part of the National camp in Bangalore.
When asked whether she'll be able to overhaul Anju's long-standing national record of 6.83m, she said, "Though it will take some time, I shall definitely try."
Tintu's personal best
Akin to the long jumper, a middle distance runner knows what time she will clock as soon as she takes the final turn for the straight. Watched by her coach and mentor, track queen PT Usha, Tintu Luka clocked her personal best when she touched the tape at 2.01.24s in 800m.
Usha, who first burst onto the Indian athletics here at the Asian Games in 1982 with two silvers, felt her ward has to clock below 2 minutes to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games. Here in the 800m, she led right from the starting gun to the finish. Though she covered the first 400m in 58.2 seconds, her final lap took a little longer.
“That's because she did not have competition,” explained Usha. Sinimol Paulose, who was second, came in at 2:04.58s.
Tintu, supported by Olympic Gold Quest, will go to Crystal Palace in England for training next month. "Since 800m is all about tactics, we are looking to compete in at least two or three events in Europe," said Usha. "One or two in England, depending on our entry, and one in Brussels."
The slippery circle in discus throw
An all-Indian field in at an Asian meet? That was the story in the men's discus, where Vikas Gowda managed to win the gold with a modest effort of 54.39m. "The circle was slippery," said Gowda who PB this season is 63.22m. Was it because of the rain? "Not because of the rain," he explained. "Even while I was warming up I could feel it was slippery." According to athletics officials, the circle is polished, which should not be the case, as the throwers need grip to generate power. It has been learnt that the circle might be repaired before the CWG. India ended with 6 gold, 5 silver and six bronze.