Quartermilers under microscope

Quartermilers under microscope

Women runners need to step up to plate at third Indian Grand Prix

 The quartermilers and the 4x400M relay squad have been a source of strength for the national team on the Asian stage but after the first two meets of the Indian Grand Prix, their performances have been anything but impressive.

The third meet of the series is on Thursday at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium here and with the Asian Grand Prix series just round the corner, the timings turned in by the 400M runners on the newly re-laid track will certainly come under sharp focus, thanks to their lacklustre early displays.

Mandeep Kaur, Manjeet Kaur, Chitra K Soman, Sini Jose and Sathi Geetha were the top five Indian 400M runners last season. Of the five, Manjeet and Geetha are yet to make an appearance this season. Mandeep ran only in the first meet in Kochi, timing 56.59 seconds as against her best of 51.74, clocked in Madurai last year.

Sini, with a 53.72 timing last season, sauntered to a 57.21 in Kochi and a 56.70 in the second meet in Coimbatore while Chitra seems to be the worst affected by early-season blues. The 25-year-old, with a best of 52.71 last season, has returned timings of 58.29 and 57.87 in the first two competitions, putting a question mark over her form and fitness.

‘No concerns’

With just ten days to go for the first of the Asian Grand Prix meets, that is a bit worrying but National coach Bahadur Singh brushed aside the concerns.

“There is no cause for concern. We have some good youngsters coming up while the experienced runners will touch form gradually. It’s too early in the season for them,” Bahadur said.

While the experienced runners have struggled, Tintu Luka, the 20-year-old from the PT Usha stable, has been the best performer after notching her first win in senior category in Coimbatore in 54.81, becoming the only one to duck under 55 seconds this season. Tintu will line up again on Thursday, keen to take another stride in her journey towards the top.

Also in the hunt for Asian medals, women discus throwers Krishna Poonia, Seema Antil and Harwant Kaur will continue their three-way tussle on the domestic scene. The order has remained unchanged over the first two meets and Krishna, having set herself a target of 60M, will be eyeing a hat-trick of wins here.

HM Jyothi, Bibin Mathew and MA Prajusha are among the others in with a chance to complete three wins in a row here. Jyothi was unchallenged in Kochi and Coimbatore as she won the 100 and 200M while Prajusha too was a cut above the competition, with personal best performances in triple jump (Kochi) and long jump (Coimbatore). Bibin is the man in form in the men’s 400M and it remains to be seen whether KM Binu can raise the bar to provide a worthwhile challenge.

A new track and breezy evening weather provide a setting ideal for the athletes to revel in before they shift their focus to continental competitions.

Events: Men: 100M, 400M, 1000M, 110M hurdles, 400M hurdles, long jump, shot put, high jump, discus, javelin, 4x100M relay.

Women: 100M, 400M, 1000M, 100M hurdles, triple jump, high jump, discus, 4x100M relay.

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