Uttar Pradesh's Ram Baboo shattered the national record in the men's 35km race walk event en route winning the gold medal on the concluding day of athletics competition at the National Games 2022 on Tuesday. (More Sports News)
Baboo, an unemployed physical education graduate, won the event in 2 hours 36 minutes 34 seconds, bettering the earlier national record of 2:40.16, which was in the name of Haryana's Juned Khan who finished second on Tuesday with a time of 2:40.51.
It is the fifth national record set at the Games, and the third in track and field events, after the women's and men's pole vault national marks by Rosy Meena Paulraj (Tamil Nadu) and Siva Subramaniam (Services) respectively.
The other two national records were in weightlifting competition. The 35km race walk event was introduced in India only last year in the wake of World Athletics' decision to do away with the 50km event after the Tokyo Olympics.
“I will keep working hard to replicate such time on an international platform too,” Baboo said after the event. He was the inaugural champion in the National Open Championships in Warangal last year when he won in 2:46:31.00.
Though he clocked a faster time of 2:41:30.00 in the National Race Walking Championships in Ranchi in April this year, he was unable to match strides with Juned Khan who set the then national record at 2:40:16.00.
Home state swimmer Maana Patel and Assam sprinter Amlan Borgohain were the other stars of the day, breaking the National Games record twice each.
Maana clocked a personal best time of 26.60 seconds in the 50m freestyle heats in the morning. Later in the evening, she improved her own Games record while winning the 200m backstroke gold in 2:19.74.
Sadly for the home fans, she was beaten in the 50m Freestyle final. Amlan (Assam) broke the 200m Games record twice, first in the heats and then in the final. Four runners cracked the 21-second barrier in the final, but there was no denying him the men’s sprint double, having won the 100m dash earlier.
Amlan left the field in his wake, as he blazed from the start, sped around the curve and consolidated on the home straight to the beam in 20.55 seconds in the final.
Andhra Pradesh’s Jyoti Yarraji also attained the rare double of 100m and 100m hurdles but would consider herself unlucky. She became the first Indian female to clock a sub-13 seconds time (12.79 seconds) in 100m hurdles but cannot lay claim to the national or Games record due to a wind assistance above the permissible limit of 2m/s.
She had faced a similar situation in the Federation Cup in Kozhikode earlier this year when she dipped home in 13.09 seconds but the wind reading was +2.1m/s. She, however, did one better and created the national record at 13.04 seconds in the Harry Schutling Games in the Dutch city of Vught.
In the weightlifting arena, Uttar Pradesh's Purnima Pandey overcame a stiff back and clinched gold in the women's +87kg class. Purnima, who finished sixth at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, did enough to take the top spot with a total lift of 215kg, with 95kg in snatch and 120kg in clean and jerk.
Maharashtra's Richa Chordia and Sanyukta Kale shared the Rhythmic Gymnastics honours in the Sama Indoor Sports Complex in Vadodara. Sanyukta, the Thane athlete, topped the Hoop events with 26.05 points while Richa proved better with the Ball, catching the judges’ eyes to pocket 25.30 points.
Maharashtra also claimed the kho kho golden double after their men defeated Kerala 30-26 after leading 26-10 at the half time. The women's team had earlier won gold by beating Odisha 18-16.
Manipur’s archers picked up two out of the four gold medals in the Indian Bow competition, with the men’s team sharing the spoils with Okram Naobi Chanu. Okram won the single-arrow shoot-off against Gujarat’s Rathva Amita Ganpatbhai after they tied in the women’s individual 5-5. Manipur were denied a third gold by Kerala women.
In the badminton events Surat, top-seeded left-hander Malvika Bansod (Maharashtra) quelled the challenge of Unnati Hooda (Haryana) in the women's singles first round with a 22-20, 21-13 win. With victories in their respective first round matches, second seed Aakarshi Kashyap (Chhattisgarh) and home favourite Tasnim Mir set up a mouth-watering quarterfinal battle.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra's Arjun Kadhe will meet Manish Suresh Kumar (Tamil Nadu) in the men's singles final while Gujarat's Zeel Desai will vie for the women's singles crown against Karnataka's Sharmada Balu in the competition at the Riverfront Sports Complex in Ahmedabad.