India give top athletes a run for their money

first_imgMy heartiest congratulations to Kavita Raut and Harminder Singh for bringing India its first and second bronze medals in this year’s track and field events of the Commonwealth Games. Fighting it out against Kenyan middle-distance runners – as in the case of Kavita – and Australian walkers – as in the case of Harminder – and still managing to find a place on the podium is no mean feat.Having given Grace Momanyi and Doris Changeywo a run for their money, Kavita became the first Indian since 1958 to win a medal in the track events at the Games. She is also the first Indian woman ever to bag a medal in track events in the history of the Games. Although her performance on Friday wasn’t the best by her own standards, she made up by calculating her run to perfection. Harminder put up a clinical show on Saturday.As I had predicted earlier, with luck on their side, one or two Indian walkers could easily emulate their predecessors in the 1982 Asian Games and win a medal in the 20km category and that is exactly what Harminder did. Caught unawares, he kept pecking at Jared Tallent and Luke Adams (both Australians) to not only finish with a personal best time of 1:23:28sec, but also a bronze.Even Tallent deserves praise for clocking a new Games record time of 1:22:18sec. Five days into the track and field events at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, I feel the overall level of competition hasn’t been something to write home about. As I had foreseen, the level of competition wouldn’t be topclass as the foreign athletes have just finished their season and would be on a downward curve as far as performance level goes.advertisementEven so, I would admit that I have been pleasantly surprised by the performance of a few foreign athletes. In the men’s 100m sprint, Lerone Clarke of Jamaica (gold) and Mark Lewis- Francis of England (silver) put up commendable performances. Lewis- Francis impressed me even more because having slipped at the starting block, he still managed to hold his cool and finish second.Also, a lot of questions had been raised regarding his mental strength to shine at the senior level after having taken the junior level by storm. He finally answered his critics. Although Frizell Sultana (Canada) created a new Games record on her way to a gold medal, in the women’s hammer final, the level of competition on offer was mediocre to say the least. One incident that really saddened me was the disqualification of women’s 100m gold medallist Sally Pearson. I feel the organisers were foolish to wait till the medal ceremony to decide if she had indeed made a false start.The timekeeper should have checked and re-checked in the initial stage itself, when Laura Turner was disqualified for a false start. The callousness of the organisers actually led to humiliation for Pearson as she had to wait till the postponement of the medal ceremony to realise that the English had protested against her. Coming to the Indian picture, although we haven’t seen medals being won, I have been impressed with the performance of a few athletes. To begin with, Abdul Najeeb Qureshi did a good job by equalling the national record in the men’s 100m sprint.Also, Prajusha Maliakkal (women’s triple jump) created a national record and Jhuma Khatun (women’s 1,500m) clocked her personal best to make us proud. As I keep emphasising, for me, winning medals is a commercial success while performing well and creating records is more praiseworthy. Even though we have won just two medals till now, let me remind you, our best bets – Vikas Gowda (men’s discus throw), Krishna Poonia, Harwant Kaur and Seema Antil (all in women’s discus throw), Renjith Maheshwary (men’s triple jump), Tintu Luka (women’s 800m) and 4x400m women’s relay runners – are yet to take the field of play. (The writer is a 1962 Asian Games gold medallist)last_img

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