Three time commonwealth games medallist Discus Thrower Seema Punia has once again booked a place in the 2018 Indian contingent for the XXI CWG. She achieved this feat by winning gold on the opening day of the 22nd Federation Cup National Senior Athletics Championships in Patiala.
Good News for Seema Punia not so good for Subramani Siva
Tamil Nadu’s Subramani Siva shattered his own national record en route to winning the men’s pole vault title at the Fed cup. This domestic championship serves as the selection trial for Indian athletes to qualify for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Siva, a havildar in the Indian Army, cleared 5.15m to break his own earlier national record of 5.14m set last year at the same venue, the Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports.
However, despite the record effort, the 21-year-old fell short of the Commonwealth Games qualifying standard of 5.45m set by the AFI. He blamed a fever he suffered a few days ago for not jumping even higher.
“I was having fever for the last two days. I was jumping 5.40m in practice. If I was in good fitness, I would have come close to qualifying,” he said later.
Seema Punia – The veteran Discus Thrower shows her prowess
Seema Punia, on the other hand, overcame initial hiccups to achieve the AFI norms of 59m for the Gold Coast CWG with her last round throw of 61.05m, which was also a meet record. It was Seema’s best mark in two years. She was competing in her first competition of the year.
The 34-year-old Haryana thrower has been a regular entrant in Commonwealth Games since 2006 and she has always been on the podium — winning a silver (60.56m) way back in 2006 at Melbourne, a bronze at Delhi 2010 Games and silver in 2014 Glasgow.
The throw was a big improvement for Punia. She had had a dismal last year, managing a best effort of 54.14m in December.
“It is difficult to compete with injury. I was dealing with a shoulder injury and also had kidney issues last season. At this stage in your career, you don’t have any option but to compete with injuries.
“Right now my only target is to do well in the XXI Commonwealth Games. This could probably be the final time I compete in the Commonwealth Games. I want to win a gold,” she said.
Performance of other Indian Athletes
Behind Punia was Navjeet Kaur, who recorded a best throw of 57.75m. She had cleared the AFI norm in the first leg of Indian Grand Prix at the very same venue less than a week ago with a throw of 59.18m.
Govindan Lakshmanan bagged the men’s 5,000m gold by clocking 13:47:28 and eclipsing the old meet mark of 13:49:17 set by Kheta Ram at Patiala in 2014. Despite the run, the quickest by an athlete in India, Lakshmanan would fall short of the CWG qualifying standard of 13:25:00.
In the women’s 5,000m, L Suriya didn’t push herself too hard even as she claimed gold with a time of 15:46:96. Suriya, who held the old meet record of 15:39:55 set in 2016, said she knew she would find it difficult to match the qualifying standard of 15:09:00.
She said she was focusing on qualifying in the women’s 10,000m in which she had a better chance.
Also disappointed after winning a gold was hammer throw national record holder and defending champion Sarita Devi who managed a best effort of 63.80m. This was worse than her personal best of 65.25m which she had recorded in the same competition last year and further short of the CWG qualification mark of 68.32m.
More than 700 athletes are taking part in the four-day meet which serves as the selection trials for the Gold Coast Games. May the best man and woman win!