Kerala’s Jinson Johnson ran the third fastest 800m race by an Indian to win the gold but missed the Rio Olympics qualification standard narrowly on the second day of the 56th National Inter-State Senior Athletics Championships in Hyderabad on Wednesday.
25-year-old Johnson 1:46.43 while the Rio Games qualification mark stands at 1:46.00.
Johnson ran a fast first lap to the amusement of everyone at the GMC Balayogi Stadium at Gachibowli, with Sajeesh Joseph acting as a pacer. Joseph pulled out after the half-way stage to leave Johnson to complete the remaining part of the race at his own pace.
When the timings appeared on the electronic board, Johnson look visibly disappointed as he missed the Rio Games standard narrowly.
“I was expecting competition from my fellow runners, at least till the 600m. However, lack of challenge was one of the factors for missing the Rio qualification,” said Johnson after the race.
The meet served as a Rio Olympics qualifying event.
Johnson’s previous best 1:47.56 came two months ago at the Federation Cup in New Delhi. Wednesday’s performance put him third in the Indian all-time ranking lists for this distance behind Sriram Singh (1:45.77; 1976) and Pankaj Dimri (1:46.26; 2010).
Tamil Nadu’s M Gomathi took the women’s 800m gold in 2:06.28.
Another athlete who missed the Rio qualification mark on Wednesday was triple jumper Renjith Maheswary. The former Asian champion tried his best to reach the 16.85m.
However, he could not find his rhythm in the first few rounds. He delivered his best in the final round by leaping 16.56m to win the gold. His Kerala teammate AV Rakesh Babu (16.20) and Bheeshm Singh, representing Manipur (16.16), won the silver and bronze.
Much was expected from the shot putters. However, a slippery circle, due to intermittent rain, hampered the chances of the competitors delivering their best.
Asian champion Inderjeet Singh, who has already qualified for the Olympics, clinched the gold with a modest 19.28m throw.