Punjab's Harmilan Kaur Bains shattered a 19-year-old record to win the 1500m gold at the National Open Athletics Championships in Warangal, Telangana.
Harmilan, 20, completed the race in 4:05.39 seconds to erase the mark set by Sunita Rani (4:06.03) at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan. She also broke OP Jaisha’s meet record of 4:11.83 (Delhi 2006). Delhi’s KM Chanda (4:18.24) gave a close fight for Harmilan till the final lap. At the bell though, the Punjab runner banked on her sprinting capabilities to leave everyone behind by a margin.
Harmilan has been undefeated in eight national level races since January 2020. Her timing has improved by quite a margin too. She won gold at the Khelo India University Games in Bhubaneswar last year with a time of 4:14.68. In the Federation Cup in March this year, she recorded 4:08.70, while at the Indian Grand Prix 4 in June, she won with a timing of 4:08.27.
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Her new record, however, is still more than a second off from what was the qualifying mark for the Tokyo Olympics (4:04.20). Of course, at 20, one can be rest assured that she is yet to hit peak and going by the rate she has been improving, we can expect good showing from her next year at the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games, and a possible entry to Paris 2024. As of now, with the national mark under her belt, she needs to work harder to break touch global standards.
Meanwhile, Delhi teenager Taranjeet Kaur triumphed against all odds to emerge the fastest in the 100m dash. She won with a personal best time of 11.50 seconds, two years after she was knocked down by a car and suffered fractures. Taranjeet knocked two-tenths of a second from her previous best of 11.70, recorded while winning gold at the Federation Cup Junior (U20) meet in Bhopal in January this year.
The men’s 100m race was won by Naresh Kumar in 10.30 seconds. It happens to be the second fastest time by an Indian in 100m this year behind Gurindervir Singh’s 10.27 seconds in Patiala in June.
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The race produced personal bests for Assam’s Amlan Borgohain and Harjit Singh (Services) with times of 10.34 seconds for both. A photo finish separated them by six-thousandths of a second with Borgohain edging out Harjit for silver.
The men’s 1500m race saw an upset with little-known Parvej Khan (Haryana) handing two-time Asian Athletics Championships medallist Ajay Kumar Saroj (Railways) his first defeat at the National level since August 2019.
Asian Games gold medal winning heptathlete Swapna Barman (Railways) won the women’s high jump, while Sahil Silwal (Haryana) won the men’s javelin with a throw of 77.79m.
(With additions from PTI)
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