School Athletes from the State Strengthen Their Supremacy
By Express News Service | Published: 14th January 2014 10:02 AM |
The Kerala schools athletics team returned from the bitterly cold climes of the Jharkhand capital, Ranchi, on Monday firm in the belief that the state has set right the dip witnessed in its stranglehold over the national athletics scene in the past few years.
As if bagging the overall title for a whopping 17th time in a row was not enough, Kerala also managed to draw up a huge gap of 21 gold medals between themselves and the second best team - Haryana - in the 59th National Schools Athletics Championship that concluded at the Birsa Munda Stadium on Sunday. Aided by 12 record-shattering performances, Kerala amassed 315 points, as against 94 for Haryana, who have been challenging Kerala’s domination over the track and field events in recent times in both schools and amateur events.
The champions ended with a medal tally of 38 gold, 28 silver and 16 bronze medals while the runners-up (11:9:5) were left far behind. Kerala won five gold medals more than its show in the previous edition at Etawah, Uttar Pradesh. And whereas they were hard-pressed to get over the cold weather when the meet was held in Amritsar a few years ago, they seemed unstoppable in Ranchi, after having reached the venue via rail in general compartments.
The spirited display was led by promising runners P U Chitra and V V Jisha, who picked up four gold medals each. Jisna Mathew clinched gold medals and a bronze while jumpers P V Suhail and Rugma Udayan claimed golden doubles, winning the under-19 boys and under-17 girls long jump and triple jump events respectively.
Athletes from schools like Government HSS, Parali, which was the most successful with a tally of 6:1:1, Government HSS, Usha School of Athletics, Kozhikode (3:2:1), Mundur (3:1:1), St George’s HSS, Kothamangalam (2:3:1), Kalladi HSS, Kumaramputhur (2:2:2) and Sacred Heart HSS, Bharanamganam (2:2:2) led the way as Kerala steamed ahead.
High jumper Sreenith Mohan, hurdler M N Nazimuddeen, C Babitha, who claimed the junior girls 800m, and Jessy Joseph, who won the seniors girls two lap race, were the other star performers. Praising the efforts of the schools children, Kerala State Athletics Association secretary
M Velayudhan Kutty said that the schools and university level meets were indispensable to the cause Kerala’s athletics cause. He also added that
“Athletes like P U Chithra and M N Nazimuddin have developed tremendously, thanks to the schools meet, and are already prepared to make a full switch. These meets are the foster grounds for athletes who will dominate the track and field in the years to come,” Velayudhan said. Chithra, Nazimuddin and Sreenith Mohan are set to compete at the Lusofonia Games in Goa next week.
Competing in her final schools meet, Chitra made it special by emerging the individual champion, along side Jisha and Maharashtra’s Swapna Burman, all of whom finished with 15 points. Meanwhile, Suhail was named the individual champion in the senior boys section.
The team, slated to reach home on Wednesday, is awaiting a warm reception, with Education Minister P K Abdu Rabb lauding the victory and Sports Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan stating that the government would suitably reward the athletes.