Guwahati: Jinson Johnson ran one of the most memorable races in recent times as he smashed legendary Sriram Singh's 42-year-old 800m record, the oldest one in Indian athletics, to steal the spotlight on the second day of the 58th National Inter State Senior Athletics Championships in Guwahati on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old Johnson, representing Kerala, clocked one minute and 45.65 seconds to clinch the gold and to better the earlier record of 1:45.77 in the name of Sriram set during the 1976 Olympic Games.
He also booked a ticket for the Asian Games as the qualification mark is 1:47.50.
"I have been improving my physical fitness and the conditions were very good. Before the race, I was not thinking about the gold. I told myself that I will go for the national record," Jinson said after the race.
Jinson's earlier personal best was 1:45.98 in Bangalore in 2016.
"My (earlier) personal best timing was not that far away (from Sriram's). So I knew I can break it and I have done today. I was disappointed that I couldn't do well in Rio Olympics. Now I am very happy that I qualified for the Asian Games."
Reacting after his record was broken, Sriram said: "Records are to be broken and I'm happy that Jinson broke my record. It is good for Indian athletes."
All the other competitors also clocked first timings as even the fourth place finisher breached the qualification mark. But only two will be selected in the Indian team under rules of the Asian Games organizers.
Manjit Singh of Haryana took the silver with a timing of 1:46.24 and also booked a ticket for the Asian Games.
Mohd Afsal of Manipur clinched the bronze in 1:46.79 while Beant Singh of Haryana was fourth in 1:46.92.
Meanwhile, Hima Das lived up to her fast rising sprint star status as she clinched the gold in women's 200m race in a meet record-equalling time of 23.10 seconds to book a ticket for the Asian Games in style. But her win was overshadowed by Jinson's shock win.
Running at lane number 7, the 18-year-old local favourite led the final race from start to the end as she left behind Dutee Chand (23.41) of Odisha by a big gap at the finish line to clock a personal best timing. Another Odisha woman Srabani Nanda took the bronze in 23.87.
Dutee also booked an Asian Games berth as the qualifying time in this event is 23.50. She had already clocked 23.46 in one of the heats.
There was slight drizzle just before the start of the race but that did not have any effect on Das producing a fast timing and she raised her hand after crossing the finishing line to celebrate her victory.
"I am happy to have run my personal best at my home track. It is special," Hima said after the race.
Born in Dhing village in Assam's Nagaon district, Hima took to athletics two years back only but from then onwards her rise has been meteoric. She has been improving her timings by leaps and bounds in a short time. She ran 23.22 in Poland earlier this month in Poland during the training-cum-exposure tour and today she improved upon it.
Asked if she can break the national record of 22.82 of Saraswati Saha during the Asian Games, she said, "I cannot say that now and everybody will see when I run the race there in the Asian Games."
Hima, who is the brand ambassador of this meet, will also be competing in the 400m race tomorrow and she had run a personal best of 51.32 in the quartermile event during the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
In men's 200m, Muhammed Anas of Kerala took the gold in 20.98 seconds but missed the qualifying mark of 20.87. VK Elakkiya Dasan of Tamil Nadu secured the silver in 21.31 while Parveen Kumar (21.43) got the bronze.
Anas, who began running 200m recently, had clocked 20.74 earlier this month in Poland during the training-cum-exposure tour.
"I am not happy with my race. I did not have a good start, I don't know why. Because of that I could not qualify," said Anas who will also run in 400m.
In the absence of Tintu Luka, who is currently injured, Komal Chodhary of Haryana took the gold in women's 800m race, clocking 2 minute and 06.68 seconds, well outside the qualifying mark of 2:03.00.
Shipra Sarkar of Bengal took the silver in 2:07.02 while Maharashtra's Archana Adhav clocked 2:07.22 to clinch the bronze.
Twelve athletes have so far breached the Asian Games qualifying mark set by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI).
India have been allotted 102 (52 men and 50 women) athletes by the organisers of the Asian Games.
Updated Date: Jun 28, 2018 09:08 AM