Poor start by Indian athletes in Olympics

August 15th, 2008 - 11:07 pm ICT by IANS  

By V. Krishnaswamy
Beijing, Aug 15 (IANS) It was a muted start, almost as usual at this level, for the Indians Friday, the opening day of the Olympics athletics competition. Neither the heptathlon trio nor the discus duo were able to raise themselves even close to the levels they had achieved to earn a ticket to Beijing. Both the discus throwers, Krishna Poonia and Harwant Kaur, performed way below their best - and even the marks they achieved to make the Olympics - and finished way down in the final standings.

Poonia may well have qualified for the final, if only she had repeated her Asian Games bronze medal winning performance of 61.53 metres in December 2006. Here in Beijing, Poonia managed a best of 58.23 mts on the second of her three throws - the other being 57.31 mts and 58.15 mts.

The 31-year-old Poonia, who has been training under the 1976 Olympic Gold medallist and American discus thrower Mac Wilkins in US for the last six months, was just not able to get going.

Also making an early exit was Kaur, who with her best of 56.42 mts was way below the 61.09 mts she touched at the 2008 National inter-state athletics championships at Madurai to make the berth for Beijing.

In the discus the top qualifier was Stephanie Brown Trafton of the US with a best of 62.77 mts. Nicoleta Grasu of Romania was second with 62.51 mts.

The last of the 12 qualifiers for the final was Ellina Avereva of the Belarus, who touched 60.28 mts, which was less than what both Indians have achieved at home and in earlier competitions.

In the heptathlon, where the Indian athletics federation surprisingly decided to send all three qualifiers, the country was faced with another embarrassment as the three were lying way down the standings after the first day of the two-day event.

J.J. Shobha, 11th at the Athens Olympics, where she braved a knee injury to complete her event, was lying 29th with a first day total of 3,482, while G.G. Pramila was 32nd with 3,419 points and Susmita Singha Roy was 34th with 3,391. Only 39 competitors are left in the event that started with 43 in the morning.

The only redeeming feature for the Indian trio would be if they could at least total 6,000 points, which was the Olympic qualifying mark.

Results of Heptathlon for Indians:

J.J. Shobha 100m hurdles 13.62s - 1,033 pts; High jump 1.65m - 795 pts; Shot put 13.07m - 732 pts; 200m 24.62s - 922 pts

G.G. Pramila 100m hurdles 13.97s - 983 pts; High jump 1.74m - 903 pts; Shot put 11.66 - 639 pts; 200m 24.92s - 894 pts

Susmita Singha Roy 100m hurdles 141.11s - 963 pts; High jump 1.71m - 867 pts; Shot put 11.27 - 613 pts; 200m 24.34s - 948 pts.

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