Kerala retains overall championship

M A Prajusha, the Commonwealth Games silver medallist in long jump, was the cynosure of all eyes on the concluding day of Greenko National Inter-State Senior Athletics Championships here this evening. The Kerala jumper looked very energetic when she takes up the runway towards triple jump pit. Her first jump of 13.26m itself assured her the gold medal. Prajusha faultered on her second try but went on to register a fine series of 13.55, 13.66, 13.53 and 13.45m on her remaining attempts to defend the title in this event. However, she barely missed to better the meet mark of 13.68m standing in her state-mate Mayookha Johny’s name since 2010. Shraddha Ghule from Maharashtra, the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games champion, took the silver with a 13.18m jump while Amitha Baby of Kerala the bronze in 12.72m. Other athletes who defends their title from last year include Kheta Ram (Rajasthan) in 10000m at men’s division, M.M. Anchu (Kerala) in 100m hurdles, Harwant Kaur (Punjab) in discus throw and Sushmita Singha Roy (Bengal) in heptathlon in the women’s section. Harwant, the Commonwealth silver medallist at Delhi-2010, could manage only 55.92m in the discus throw and hence could not join her teammates Krishna Poonia and Seema Antil in the London-bound squad. Rajasthan’s Shakti Singh recorded a personal best 18.25m to take the men’s shot put gold while distance runner Kheta Ram brought another for the state in the 10,000m clocking 29:49.71. Jharkhand hurdler A. Suresh timed career best 13.96 secs to win the men’s 110m hurdles from much fancied Tamil Nadu stars T Balamurugan (14.18) and K Premkumar (14.62). Metric miler Jhuma Khatun, who also represented Jharkhand, engaged in a keen tussle with Kerala girl S R Bindu in women’s 1500m and virtually take the title in a thrilling sprint finish on the home stretch clocking 4:28.31 to Bindu’s 4:28.53. Similarly, the men’s race also witnessed a major contest between Asian Indoor Games champion Chatholi Hamza (Kerala) and Haryana runner Sandeep which the latter won in 3:43.76. Hamza clocked 3:45.67 for the second place. Delhi sprinter Nitin overpowered Tamil Nadu’s Manikanda Arumugam in men’s 200m (21.44 secs) while Haryana athlete Manisha grab the title in women’s race in 24.26s. Andhra Pradesh’s Satti Geetha who was trying to emulate her sprint-double from the Patiala edition of the inter-state two years ago however finished second in today’s race with a time of 24.33 secs. As expected Kerala retained the overall title with a whooping 192 points, as the runners-up Uttar Pradesh finished a distant second in 82 points. Tamil Nadu and West Bengal have taken the second spot in the team championships for men and women respectively. Punjab’s intermediate hurdler Satinder Singh and Kerala half-miler Tintu Luka have been adjudged as best male and female athletes of the championships. N Kirankumar Reddy, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh presided over the valedictory function and gave away the prizes and awards to the winners.