Sahana takes home gold

Athletics Federation Cup : High-jumper disappointed despite win; Mayookha sparkles

Sahana takes home gold
The glimmer of gold brought forth contrasting emotions in two champion performers as action commenced in the 19th Federation Cup athletics championships here on Friday.

Deep disappointment marked Sahana Kumari’s seventh victory in high jump while a feeling of elation swept through Mayookha Johny’s face as she won the long jump gold for the third time.

On a hot and humid day, the two jumpers cornered attention at the Mangala Stadium even as the first round of the 100M, 400M hurdles and 800M events went through on the track. Indifference of athletes was evident in two events, with only one competitor in women’s pole vault and two in women’s discus.

Sahana was the favourite in women’s high jump and she obliged, much to the joy of an appreciative home crowd. But her performance fell way short of expectations, leaving her totally dejected. Sahana, who holds the national record at 1.92 metres, could manage only 1.76 in tough conditions.

“Winning gold is not as important as a good performance,” said Sahana. “I wanted to do well but how can you even set a target when you have no one to guide you? For the last one year, I have been without a coach. “Only if someone is there to guide you, correcting your mistakes, you can progress. It is very difficult otherwise,” she said, after her effort fell short of the Asian Championship standard set by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI).

As expected, the AFI made a change in the qualification guidelines overnight. Third-place performance at the last Asian meet was announced as the norm initially but later, the fourth-place show was set as the norm in a message posted on its website. Sahana, as such, needed to clear 1.86, the distance at which she claimed the fourth spot in Pune last time.

It was not to be on this day, with the weather too playing a part. “It was too hot out there. I have been training here for the last 20 days but even then I couldn’t cope with it,” said the Karnataka captain.

Mayookha faced a different challenge. Coming back after a long lay-off forced by a knee injury, the ONGC athlete looked totally rusty as she struggled through the early rounds, with a 6.19 in the third round her best effort. Maharashtra’s Shraddha Ghule then overtook her with a 6.21M leap. But Mayookha’s response gave a glimpse of the old fire – a 6.34 in the final round that took her past the qualification standard. She had won the bronze in the last Asian meet with 6.30M.

“I was very tentative initially but the knee didn’t bother me. Didn’t want to lose this one to the younger lot, so I put in a lot more effort in the last jump. I need more competitions to get it right,” said Mayookha.

In the morning, Army’s G Lakshmanan (13:58.40) and Tamil Nadu’s L Suriya (16:55.90) won the 5000M races, with the former going under the qualification norm.

The women’s pole vault proved farcical with only V S Surekha turning up while in women’s discus, only Baljit Kaur and Priyanka J S were in the ring. They went through the motions, with no medals or certificates awaiting them.

In women's javelin, Asian Games bronze medallist Annu Rani reported late and could only make one throw, in the third round, which proved to be a foul, ending her event. Karnataka's Shahejahani won the silver at 49.47, finishing behind Suman Devi, whose 54.07 earned her an Asian meet norm.

Results: Men:  5000M: G Lakshmanan (Army) 13:58.40, 1; Gopi T (Army) 14:03.17, 2; Suresh Kumar (ONGC) 14:03.28, 3.

Women: 5000M: L Suriya (Tamil Nadu) 16:55.90, 1; Chitra P U (Kerala) 16:56.90, 2; Preeti Lamba (Haryana) 16:56.51, 3.

High jump: Sahana Kumari (Karnataka) 1.76 metres, 1; Mallika Mondal (Bengal) 1.73, 2; Steny Michael (Kerala) 1.70, 3.

Long jump: Mayookha Johny (ONGC) 6.34 metres, 1; Shraddha Ghule (Maharashtra) 6.21, 2; Neena V (Kerala) 6.12, 3.

Javelin throw: Suman Devi (Uttar Pradesh) 54.07 metres, 1; Shahejahani (Karnataka) 49.47, 2; Rupinder Kaur (Punjab) 48.48, 3.

Today’s finals: 6.00 am: 20Km walk women; 4.00 pm: women’s shot put; 4.40: women’s 400M hurdles; 4.55: men’s 400M hurdles; 5.00pm: men’s javelin throw; 5.30: men’s long jump; 5.30pm: men’s shot put; 5.40: men’s 800M; 5.50; women’s 800M; 6.00 pm: men’s 100M; 6.10pm: women’s 100M.

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