Jinson Johnson breaks Sriram Singh 42-year-old 800m national record
Jinson Johnson broke a 42-year-old national record to win the 800m and qualify for the Jakarta Asian Games in style on the second day of the Inter State Senior Athletics Championships here on Wednesday.
The Armyman from Kerala clocked 1:45.65 secs, eclipsing the record of Asian track stalwart of the 1970s, Sriram Singh, who ran 1:45.77 secs while finishing seventh in the 800m final at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
It was the oldest mark in the Indian record books. The Asiad qualification mark was 1:47.50.
Johnson, who broke the 1,500m national mark at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games – he clocked 3:37.86 to finish fifth in the final – said he never imagined he would break the record. “It will be a launching pad to further earn laurels at the world level,” he said.
Johnson, 26, credited Manjit Singh of Haryana, who came second, for going out fast. “Without his help, I wouldn’t have achieved this milestone today. He set a good pace in the first 400m. I closely followed him and took over from the 500m mark.”
Manjit was second at 1:46.24 secs. The next two finishers also met the Games norm, but only two will go.
Two years ago, Johnson had clocked 1:45.98 secs at a domestic meet. “At the back of my mind I knew I will break the record one day, but wasn’t expecting it to come so soon.”
Sriram Singh expressed happiness. “It will encourage the next generation to do better at the global level. Since the record has been broken ahead of Asian Games, it will help Johnson to dominate the event,” he said over phone from Jaipur.
Rising teenager Hima Das outclassed the fancied Dutee Chand to win the women’s 200m at a personal best 23.10 secs and dip under the Games qualifying mark of 23.50 secs. Dutee was second at 23.41 secs. “My main focus is 100m, so I am happy with the time,” she said.
Hima, 18, who is from Assam, posted the fastest time of the season and equalled the meet record. “I wanted to do well on home ground and I did,” she said.
Hima has been improving with each race. Her next target will be breaking the national record of 22.82 secs set by Saraswati Saha in 2000. “I think I should be able to do better in the Asian Games. And if I break the national record, you all will come to know,” she said with an air of confidence.
While Dutee’s next race will be the 100m heats, Hima will battle former national 400m champion Nirmala Sheoran in the quarter-mile.
Punjab’s Tejinder Pal Singh Toor heaved 19.37m to win the shot put, it fell short of the qualification mark of 19.50m.
In men’s pole vault, Haryana’s Kundan set a meet record of 5.10m, but was way below the qualifying mark of 5.45m. The previous meet mark was 5.05m.