Kerala top athletics table
Ancy Sojan outshines all in track and field
Guwahati: As the only triple gold medal winner, Kerala’s Ancy Sojan emerged as the star of the athletics competition that concluded here on Tuesday evening in the Khelo India Youth Games.
The Thrissur girl won the Girls Under-21 100m and the long jump crowns on her steam, before combining with her teammates to win the 4x100m relay too; that was enough to lead her state’s charge towards the top of the medals table in track and field with 10 gold in a total for 18 medals.
Haryana’s 9 gold among 29 medals put them in second place while Tamil Nadu claimed the third position with 8 gold, even though they grabbed the distinction of winning 31 medals, the most in the event.
Uttar Pradesh, with four gold on Tuesday, beat Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi to the fourth spot.
Kerala have reason to be concerned despite their ascendancy since only two of their gold came in the Under-17 events, with Stephy Koshy being the only individual athlete to strike gold. She had a hand in the 4x400m relay team’s success too, raising questions about their future.
Interestingly, each of their 10 gold medals were earned by girls, with the boys managing only two silver medals, both in the 4x400m relays.
Madhya Pradesh’s results – four of their six gold medals were won by their Under-17 boys – were testimony to the vision and hard work done at the Madhya Pradesh Athletics Academy in Bhopal.
Two of them, Arjun Waskale (3000m) and Sohail Akhtar (Long Jump), were among those who set new meet marks, the former even securing a silver in the 1500m.
Telangana’s Jeevanji Deepthi and Nandini Agasara claimed a double each in the Girls Under-17 competitions. Deepthi won the sprint events, setting a meet record time of 12.26 seconds in the 100m, while Nandini Agasara took the 100m hurdles and the long jump gold medals home to show to her proud father, a tea-seller. Both are trainees of national sprint coach N Ramesh.
The SAI-appointed Talent Scouts were happy that the quality has improved. “We know that it has only been a couple of years now but the fact that as many as 36 meet records were rewritten tells you that of the effort put in by the athletes and their states. Given that this is off-season for most athletes, that number is a significant pointer to their intensity,” Sandeep Sarkaria, a Scout, said.
The Scouts, who parked themselves near the finish line on the track, often had a word of encouragement for the athletes, especially the Under-17 lot. As many as 12 Under-17 meet records were broken, including two in the 4x400m relays. But it was not just the record-breakers or even the winners that the talent scouting team was focused on.
Rajasthan’s Madhavendra Singh Shekhawat, who won the Boys Under-17 110m hurdles in 14.44 seconds, caught the eye as sprinting and hurdling has taken a back seat to middle and long-distance running in his State. But one of the first pieces of advice he received was to be careful about potential doping risks as he sipped water from a half-full bottle handed to him by a TV crew.