Jauna Murmu, Dutee Chand among seven to make Asian Games 2018 cut
Seven athletes achieved the qualifying mark for Jakarta Asian Games on the opening day of the National Inter State Athletics Championships here on Tuesday.
Odisha’s Jauna Murmu set the ball rolling by earning the berth in women’s 400m hurdles. Her winning time of 57.02 seconds was inside the qualifying mark of 57.52 secs and bettered the meet record of 57.21 secs.
“It was a nervous start,” she said. “But I managed to handle the pressure as the race progressed. When I entered the home straight, I couldn’t see my rivals and that was when I realised I was coming first; it gave me the confidence to accelerate,” she said.
It was the season’s best for Jauna though her personal best is 56.86 secs, clocked while finishing fourth in the 2010 Guangzhou Asiad. “Hopefully this time it should be podium finish,” she said.
Juana feels the confidence boost will help improve her timing before the Asian Games, starting on August 18. It was a comeback of sorts for the hurdler.
In January 2017, she quit the national camp due to differences with national sprints coach Ranbir Singh Sidhu and trained on her own. She was among six athletes involved in a 2011 doping scandal and was suspended for two years. Coming back to the mainstream was challenging. “The win today will erase all those bad memories,” she said.
The men’s 400m hurdles was equally exciting as the top three came under the Games qualification mark of 50.80 secs. Favourite A Dharun (49.58 secs) won, followed by Santhosh Kumar T (50.10 secs) and Jashanjot Singh (50.64secs). Only the top two will make it to the squad, as per the Athletics Federation of India norms.
Dharun, who braved a hamstring niggle, said staying focused in the race was the difference. “It was challenging as Santhosh and Jashanjot were breathing down my neck. Somehow, I found that inner strength to surge ahead of them in the last 50m.”
Dharun and Santhosh were part of the national team that went for a three-week training stint in Poland’s Olympic training centre in Sapala.
Discus thrower Sandeep Kumari of Haryana achieved the Games mark of 57m with a best throw of 58.41m. Seema Punia has been exempted from participating in this final qualifying event here and assured entry in the Games.
Sanjeevani Jadhav of Maharashtra made the cut in women’s 5,000m, winning in 15:38.78 secs to eclipse the meet mark of 15:46.92 secs. The qualifying time was 15:45 secs.
Hammer thrower Sarita R Singh of Uttar Pradesh qualified with a winning throw of 63.28m. She also bettered the meet record of 63.22m. The qualifying mark was 60m.
In the preliminary rounds of women’s 200m, Dutee Chand of Odisha was the fastest with the time of 23.45 secs, better than the qualifying mark of 23.50 secs. As expected, home favourite Hima Das (24.02) and Srabani Nanda (24.04 secs) were the other prominent runners to advance to the final slated for Wednesday.
Despite having their office in the Indira Gandhi International Stadium, the National Anti Doping Agency officials did not subject the medal winners to dope test immediately.
Athletics Federation of India secretary-general, CK Valson, said NADA was an independent body and he can’t comment on its functioning.