Shaili Singh raised the hopes of a medal for India when she topped the women’s long jump qualification on the third day of the World Athletics U20 Championships at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya on Friday.
Much was expected from men’s javelin throwers who deceived in the final.
Coached by Robert Bobby George who trained his wife Anju, India’s lone medallist in the world championship in 2005, Shaili not only topped the qualification but crossed the automatic qualification mark of 6.35m in her final and third attempt which measured 6.40m. The girl from Jhansi but based in Bengaluru opened with a distance of 6.34m and her second measured 5.98m. The final is to be held on Sunday, the fifth and final day.
In the men’s javelin throw event, Kunwer Ajai Raj Singh Rana and Jay Kumar qualified for the final on the first day on Wednesday but both had faint expectations to make it to the top. In the final on Friday evening, Rana was lying at third place in the fourth attempt but ended up fifth with a throw of 73.68m while Kumar was sixth with 70.74m. Rana’s four throws were 70-plus and one was foul while Jay had only one in 70 plus range.
Rana has a personal best PB throw of 74.75m and Kumar has a best of 72.29m set early this month during Junior Federation Cup.
Finland’s Janne Laspa (76.46m), world No.1 Artur Felfner of Ukraine (76.32m) and Chinecherem Nnamdi of Nigeria (74.48m) were the podium finishers.
It may be recalled, Tokyo Olympic Games champion Neeraj Chopra had won the gold medal in the men’s javelin throw of the world U20 meet held in Poland with a throw 86.48m, a U20 world record, in 2016.
Meanwhile among the other events in which five Indians competed only Nandini Agasara in women’s 100m hurdles entered the semifinals. Tejas Shirse in men’s 110m hurdles, Pooja in women’s 1500m, Shanmu Srinivasa N in men’s 200m and Sunil Joliya in the men’s 3000m steeplechase failed to make the cut.
In the heats held in the morning, Nandini clocked 14.18 seconds to win an automatic qualification while in the semifinals heats she was sixth with a time of 14.16s. While in the heats she was placed 21st among 34 and was 19th among 24 semifinalists. Her personal best is registered at 13.70s.
Tejas, was fifth in the third heats with a time of 13.87s and was placed 17th out of 30.
In women’s 1500m, Pooja with a time of 4:37.85s took 19th place among 25 competitors.
Shanmuga was 23rd among 38th with a time of 21.33s in 200m while Sunil took the 22nd position clocking 9:49.23s in the steeplechase event.
On the penultimate day on Saturday, in the 10,000m race walk event finals, Amit (men) and Baljeet Kaur (women) are competing while men’s 4x400m relay team will race for a final spot but all eyes will be on Priya Mohan who will be competing in the women’s 400m final in the evening.