The second day of the 47th National Open Athletics Championship witnessed a new national and meet record in men's 20km walk.
The hero of the day was 29-year-old Armyman Babu Bhai who eclipsed the seven-year-old national mark of 1:25:21.70 sec (Gurdev Singh, Chennai) and also bettered
the 17-year-old meet record of C. S. Rathi (1:25:48.0, Delhi) by clocking 1:23:40.0.
It was double delight for Babu Bhai as he also earned a Beijing Olympic Games berth by bettering the qualifying time of 1:24:30.0 in the process.
Babu Bhai, who was unlucky to miss the World Military Games in Hyderabad recently owing to an injury, had also won gold in the Inter-State National Championships in Bhopal last month.
"I am grateful to Belarus coach Nikolai Snasarev and Services coaches for advising me to shift from marathon to walking. I am determined to meet the expectations at Beijing," said Babu who is posted in Jammu.
In a major upset of the day, sprint queen Poonam Tomar (Rlys) was dethroned by her compatriot Sharda Narayan in 100m. An overjoyed Sharda said: "This is the first time that I have edged past Poonam."
Sameer Mon (Services) bagged the 100m men's dash, clocking 10.53.
Tattered net draws flak
The National Championship had its highs and lows on Wednesday. While a Delhi-based firm installed the photo-finish cameras and wind gauge, giving respite to technical officials and athletes alike, the authorities drew flak from athletes and the Athletic Federation of India (AFI) for putting a tattered safety net for the hammer throw event.
According to reports, an athlete Babli Kumari who was standing at a distance narrowly escaped being hit by the hammer during the women's hammer throw final. The hammer of various participants slipped through the net resulting in foul throws. A technical official, Makhan Singh, posted near the spot admitted that hammer throw events should not be held with torn safety nets.
"However, we were asked to complete the women's final today. The net would probably be replaced on Thursday," said the official.
AFI director M.L. Dogra, when contacted, said the competition should not have been conducted in the first place if there were holes in the net but expressed his ignorance about hammer slipping through the net. "I have just landed this evening in the city. I'd be discussing it with the officials and ensure that the net is replaced on Thursday," said Dogra.