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Toor, Sreeshankar headline top class show at Athletics Nationals

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Bhubaneswar, June 20 (PTI): Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra was not there, but the National Inter-State Championship, the final selection trial for Asian Games, still saw top class performances from the country’s elite athletes led by shot putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor and long jumper Murali Sreeshankar.

Despite the hot and humid conditions here, more than 70 athletes breached the qualifying marks of their respective events set by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) for the Asian Games, to be held in the Chinese city of Hangzhou from September 23 to October 8.

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It is now up to the selection committee of the AFI to pick the Indian athletics team for the Asian Games by taking into account the performances of the events held earlier in the year, including the Federation Cup last month.

A country can send only two athletes per event and many events have seen more than two breaching the Asian Games qualifying mark.

The AFI had made it mandatory for the athletes to take part in the championship if they are to be considered for the Asian Games selection, except for star javelin thrower Chopra and 3000m steeplechaser Avinash Sable.

The best of the five-day championship, which began on June 15 was, though, saved for the last as shot putter Toor hurled the 7.260kg iron ball to 21.77m distance on Monday to better his own two-year-old earlier Asian record of 21.10m.

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His top performance earned him a ticket to the Asian Games as well as the World Championships, to be held in August in Budapest, Hungary.

The 28-year-old burly Punjab athlete’s stunning performance was all the more praiseworthy as he was competing in the event a few days after the death of his grandmother. He was deservedly adjudged the best male athlete of the championship.

Andhra Pradesh’s Jyothi Yarraji was named the best female athlete of the championship for her double gold — in 100m dash and her pet event of 100m hurdles. She breached the Asian Games qualifying mark in 100m hurdles with a time of 12.92 seconds.

Tamil Nadu won the overall team championships while also topping the male points tally. Uttar Pradesh won the women’s team championship.

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Sreeshankar entered the championship as the cynosure of all eyes after he became India’s newest Diamond League medallist in Paris earlier this month and he did not disappoint the athletics fans.

The 24-year-old Kerala athlete made a huge jump of 8.41m — just 1cm shy of Jeswin Aldrin’s national record of 8.42m — in his first and only attempt in the qualifying round to make the World Championships cut on Sunday. He then produced his fourth career-best jump of 8.29m in the final to win the gold easily.

Tamil Nadu’s Aldrin was a distant second with a best jump of 7.98m, which was enough to breach the Asian Games qualifying mark.

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The Hills Times
The Hills Timeshttp://www.thehillstimes.in
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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