Unheralded Shivpal, Sudha, Dutee, Nirmala book Asian Games berths

GUWAHATI, June 28: Unheralded Shivpal Singh of Uttar Pradesh sprang a surprise with a big throw in the men’s javelin while veteran 3000m steeplechaser Sudha Singh ran her best race in two years as both booked Asian Games berths with gold medal winning efforts on the third day of the 58th National Inter State Senior Athletics Championships, here today.
Shivpal cleared 82.28m in his final throw – his personal best – to clinch the gold and better the Asian Games qualification mark of 81m to the surprise of those present at the Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium. It was a jump of 2.5m from his previous earlier best of 79.77m which he did in 2016. The 23-year-old from Varanasi is expected to be named in the Indian team for the Asian Games on June 30 along with star athlete Neeraj Chopra who has been exempted from taking part in this meet which serves as the final selection trial to pick the Indian track and field team.  Shivpal said he was hurt at being left out of the javelin team that went to Finland last month as part of preparations for the Asian Games.  “I was rejected by the coach (Uwe Hohn) and not taken to Finland. I was hurt. I have thrown above 85m during training but this is my first 80m throw in a competition. The coach said I was not needed (for training in Finland). Today, I have thrown 82 plus and I have proved my point,” he said after his gold-winning performance.
His coach Kashinath Naik said the plus points of Shivpal is his speed and last attack before releasing the spear.
Rajender Singh of Haryana took the silver by clearing a distance of 80.63m.
For veteran Sudha, who won a gold in 2010 Asian Games in this event, it was a sort of coming back where she belonged as she clocked 9:39.69. She had left Nikolai Snesarev to train under Surender Kumar.
For the last two years, she was struggling with best timing of 9:59.47. She had a best of 9:26.55 in 2016, which still remains her personal best.
“I am happy with my performance. My plan was to qualify for the Asian Games and I have achieved it. Training with Surender sir has made this happen. The high altitude training in Bhutan has also helped. For that I thank AFI for sending me there,” Sudha, representing UP, said. “For two years, I was not doing well and I was not having proper training. Now my target is gold medal in the Asian Games,” she added.
Meanwhile, 2014 Asian Games silver medallist Lalita Babar pulled out of the event mida-way into the second lap.
In men’s 3000m steeplechase, Naveen Kumar qualified for the Asian Games by clocking 8:39.42, enough to win the gold.
B Chethan of Karnataka was also another surprise winner who also booked an Asian Games berth by clearing 2.25m, the exact qualifying height.
Earlier in the morning session, top Indian quarter-miler Nirmala Shroran clocked an impressive 52.36 seconds in her first competitive race in nearly a year to breach the qualifying mark of the Asian Games in one of the women’s 400m heats. (PTI)