THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Renjith Maheshwary rolled back the years to overcome the challenge from Arpinder Singh and clinch gold in the men's triple jump of the 35th National Games at the University Stadium, here on Thursday.
Representing his home state of Kerala after competing for Tamil Nadu for the past five years, Renjith recorded a 16.66m jump in his penultimate attempt against the 16.41m mark set by national record holder Arpinder, who was the favourite.
"It is great to put up a good show in the Kerala jersey after a long time. The support was excellent today and I took energy from them to do good here," said Renjith afterwards with his wife and pole vaulter V S Surekha standing alongside.
Though not anywhere near his personal best, Renjith feels he has everything to be pleased about his effort. "I could only train for a single month after recovering from back and lower abdomen injuries. Considering that, I am very satisfied," he said.
The 29-year-old from Kottayam vowed to improve his performance as the season progresses. "I want to do better at the Asian and World Championships and record a personal best during the 2016 Summer Olympics at Rio de Janeiro," he stated.
It was also a rare moment in the National Games as Renjith won the gold and set a new meet record in triple jump just like his wife Surekha, who represented Tamil Nadu, did in women's pole vault on Wednesday. Renjith credited her wife's support and those of his friends and family for the achievement.
Meanwhile, the veteran opined that the presence of 22-year-old Arpinder made him rise to the occasion. "Arpinder is a very promising jumper and young athletes like him are the future of Indian athletics," he said. Arpinder himself said that he was happy with his performance as it is just the start of the season. "This is my second time at the National Games after 2011. I had a memorable one at Ranchi where I could set a meet record of 16.62 metres," said Arpinder.
Preeja Bags Silver
Kerala's Preeja Sreedharan had to settle for a silver in her final race before retirement finishing behind teammate O P Jaisha in the women's 10,000 m race. This was Jaisha's second gold from the Games having already won the 5,000m race on the opening day. Swati Gadhave of Maharashtra settled for the bronze.
Kerala won five gold medals on the penultimate day of athletics competitions with Anu Raghavan winning the women's 400m hurdles and Jaisha's and Renjith's gold in 10,000m and triple jump respectively. In the men's and women's 4x100m relay too, Kerala reigned supreme. The men's relay team comprising Anuroop John, Rahul G Pillai, Jithin Vijayan and Arunjith S Nair came home ahead of Services and Madhya Pradesh while the women's team of Merlin K Joseph, Sini S, Anchu M M and Santhini V finished ahead of Tamil Nadu and an Odisha team featuring among others Dutee Chand.