Quarter miler Sumathira Balakrishnan was the latest revelation as the athletics competition wound up at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Saturday. The 17-year-old Tamil Nadu girl carrying on the tradition of excellent 400 metres runners from the southern part of India timed 56.39 seconds while winning the gold. She later anchored her 4 x 400m teammates to another gold medal.
Even more heartening was that the top six runners came under 60 seconds, indicating a lot of potential for a 4 x 400m relay team for India. That would keep the legacy of the likes of PT Usha and Shiny Wilson, who helped India dominate the womens 4 x 400m for close to a decade in the 1980s and 1990s.
Spotted at an event in Tiruchirapalli three years ago when she ran the 800m while training on the mud track at the Sports Authority of India centre in Rajanthottam in Mayiladuthurai under coach G R Prabhakar, Sumathira has come a long way since then.
She produce her best to beat a strong line-up that included SGFI National U17 winner Priscilla Daniel (Kerala) and Tai Bamhane, who won the 800m a day earlier. Sumathira improved personal best of 56.45 – clocked in the SGFI National U19 in Rohtak – by six hundredths of a second and won in 56.39s. She said, “I am happy but not satisfied since my coach had expected a better time.”
Later Sumathira helped Tamil Nadu win the relay gold virtually at the post ahead of Kerala.
The Southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Kerala made a clean sweep of the Boys 400m. Andhra Gandi Dhanush Kumar pushed Andhra’s D. Srikanth of Telangana to silver. Dhanush clocked 49.05 to Srikanth’s silver in 49.09s while TK Sayou got the bronze in 49.75s.
Uttarakhand boys who have done well in middle and long distance running also took the top two places in 5,000m Walk as Paramjeet Singh Bisht and Mukesh Kumar took gold and silver in 21:19.84 and 21:26.71 respetively.
The Girls 3000m walk saw a great battle over the last two laps between Mansi Negi and Munita Prajapati in which Mansi blitzed away in the final 100m to claim the gold with a time of 14:44.44 giving the Uttrakhand walkers a golden double gold in the walk events.
Ex-national hammer champion Rustam is the chief coach at the Allahabad Sports School and his hammer throwers continue to dominate the national events at all the levels. It was no surprise that his throwers, Arnav Yadav and Afsar Ahmad, representing U.P won the gold and silver in the Khelo India Boys Hammmer Throw. Arnav won the gold throwing 64.09m to Afsar’s 60.54 for the silver.
The Pole Vault for Boys saw a brilliant demonstration from Rakesh Gond of Maharashtra who won the gold with a creditable 4.70m vault.
Karan Hegiste of Maharashtra who suffered a disqualification in the 100m final yesterday finally got his hands on the gold medal as he anchored the Maharashtra 4x100m relay team to victory.
The Maharashtra girls 4x100 relay relay team however had to be content with the silver as Kerala girls got past them easily in 48.61s, which gave Ancy Sojan her third medal of the Games.
Just like the 4 x 400m relay for girls won by Tamil Nadu, the 4x400m Boys relay was equally thrilling. But this time it was the turn of Kerala to upstage Tamil Nadu boys winning the gold in 3:32.75 to 3:32.82 for a thrilling finale to the athletics events of Khelo India.
400m: 1. Gandi Dhanush Kumar (Andhra Pradesh) 49.05 seconds; 2. D Srikanth (Telangana) 49.09; 3. Sayooj TK (Kerala) 49.75.
Pole vault: 1. Rakesh Gond (Maharashtra) 4.70m, 2. Deepak Yadav (Uttar Pradesh) 4.30, 3. Sandeep Kumar (Uttar Pradesh) 4.15.
Hammer throw: 1. Arnav Yadav (Uttar Pradesh) 64.09m, 2. Afsar Ahmed (Uttar Pradesh) 60.54, 3. Paran Deshwal (Punjab) 58.14.
4x100m relay: 1. Maharashtra (Suraj Ankola, Pushkar Patil, Akshay Govardhan and Karan Hegiste) 42.83 seconds; 2. Kerala 43.14; 3. Tamil Nadu 43.68.
4x400m relay: 1. Kerala (Suryajith RK, Kiran S, Akash M Verghese and Sayooj TK) 3:32.75; 2. Tamil Nadu 3:32.82; 3. Maharashtra 3:33.32.
5000m walk: 1. Paramjeet Singh Bisht (Uttarakhand) 21:19.84; Mukesh Kumar (Uttarakhand) 21:26.71; 3. Harsh (Delhi) 21:40.01.
400m: Sumathira Balakrishnan (Tamail Nadu) 56.39 seconds; 2. Tai Bamhane (Maharashtra) 57.22; 3. Sandra AS (Kerala) 57.67.
Hammer throw: 1. Harshita Sehrawat (Delhi) 58.53m, 2. Aishwarya (Haryana) 48.63, 3. Bhumika Chaudhary (Delhi) 47.39.
4x100m relay: 1. Kerala (Anjali PD, Anu Joseph, Ann Rose Tomy and Ancy Sojan E) 48.61 seconds; 2. Maharashtra 49.94; 3. Delhi 52.50.
4x400m relay: 1. Tamil Nadu (M Kowsalya, Olimba Steffi, V Lekha and Sumathira Balakrishnan) 3:59.22; 2. Kerala 3:59.45; 3. Delhi 4:00.96.
3000m walk: 1. Mansi Negi (Uttarakhand) 14:44.44; 2. Munita Prajapathi (Uttar Pradesh) 14:47.32; 3. Angom Ranisha Devi (Mainpur) 15:53.97.