Lalita Babar couldn’t repeat her qualification performance, finishing 10th in the women’s 3000m steeplechase final as India continued its sub-par performance in track and field events at the Rio Olympics on Monday.
Babar clocked 9:22.74 in the finals, nearly three seconds outside her national record effort of 9:19.76 in the qualification on Saturday.
Despite her 10th finish, Babar’s effort was still the best performance by an Indian in a track event since PT Usha’s fourth-place finish in the 400m hurdles in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
The 27-year-old from the drought-prone Satara district in Maharashtra had become the second Indian woman after Usha in 1984 to qualify for a final at an Olympic track event.
Kenyan-born Ruth Jebeth of Bahrain won the gold in 8:59.75, which is less than a second outside the world record timing of 8:58.81. She was the pre-event favourite.
2015 World Championships gold winner Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkomoi of Kenya took the silver in 9:07.12 while American Emma Coburn won the bronze in 9:07.63.
Meanwhile, triple jumper Renjith Maheswary’s flop show in big stages continued as he failed to make it to the final round after finishing 30th overall out of 48 competitors in the qualification with a pedestrian best effort of 16.13m.
The 30-year-old Kerala athlete had made the Rio Olympics cut on the last day of the qualification period on July 11 at the hurriedly arranged Indian Grand Prix with a jump of 17.30m.
In women’s 200m, India’s Srabani Nanda finished sixth out of eight competitors in heat number five with a timing of 23.58 seconds. She has a personal best of 23.07. The Odiya girl finished 55th overall out of 72 competitors.
There was one positive for India, however. Shuttler Kidambi Srikanth defeated Jan Jorgensen of Denmark to book his place in the quarterfinals of the men’s singles event.