Gowda soars to top of the chart

Discus thrower sets national record

Discus thrower Vikas Gowda soared to the top of the world’s performance chart this season with a national-record breaking effort in the Old Style Discus Challenge in Norman, Oklahoma, on Thursday.

The 28-year-old Indian hurled the discus to 66.28 metres to break his national record of 64.96 metres en route to winning the gold in the event, laying down an early marker in the Olympic year. His previous record had come at Salinas, California, in 2007.

The outdoor season is just starting and it will be a while before the big guns start firing but still Vikas’ effort was a superb one, with the latest list of this season’s performances on the International Association of Athletics Federations website showing the rare presence of an Indian right at the top.

Yennifer Frank Casanas of Spain was the season’s leader till Thursday, with a 66.25M effort earlier this month. But Vikas upstaged that on Thursday with his big heave in the fourth round. He fouled the first throw and did 62.39 and 63.81 in the next two rounds before uncorking the big one. He had a 65.83 in the fifth round before fouling the last throw.

“I am really happy with the show. I am competing again on Saturday and I hope to do better,” Vikas told Deccan Herald over phone. “I was confident of doing well going into the competition, but I know I can do better.”

The Mysore-born Vikas, who is based in the United States and trains at the John Godina centre in Phoenix Arizona, had won silver at the Commonwealth Games and bronze at the Asian Games in 2010. He maintained that form to finish seventh at the World Championships in Daegu last year. Thursday’s effort showed he was progressing on the right lines. “I am much stronger than last year and technically too I am better. My aim is to keep competing and keep working hard,” he said.

Vikas’ father Shive too was delighted with the effort. “He called us and told us to check the result. We were obviously thrilled by it,” said Shive.

With the Olympic Games just round the corner, Vikas has lined up a few competitions in the build-up period. “I plan to compete in 12-15 competitions this year, including two Diamond League meetings — first in Doha on May 11 and the other one in New York on June 9,” said Vikas.

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