RANCHI: A little less than a fortnight ago, Dutee Chand finished the heats at a heartbreaking seventh place and lost the chance of a berth in the finals of the World Championships in Doha.
But on Friday, at Birsa Munda Stadium in Ranchi, she reignited her hopes for a place in the Tokyo Olympics by setting a new national record in the marquee sprint event with a timing of 11.22 seconds, 0.26 seconds faster than her disappointing run at the Worlds.
The record time, set in the semifinals of the 59th National Open Athletics, finally gave her sole ownership of the national record – after she had equalled the long-standing time of 11.26 by Rachita Mistry in 2000, at the Asian Championships in April this year. Dutee clocked 11.25 seconds in the final on Friday, leaving Archana Suseendran and Himashree Roy in the wake.
The performance will come as a consolation to the 22-year-old, who had managed 11.48 in Doha. A time of 11.22 seconds – or even 11.25 seconds in the heats – would have seen her secure a semifinal berth there.
“A couple of days ago, I had the wrong belief that my body was tired at the end of the season. I recovered well to be able to break the last national mark twice this evening,” she said, after winning the final with a measure of comfort.
Her Odisha statemate Amiya Kumar Malik, who has been waiting through the whole season and more to find his rhythm and that elusive gold medal, won the bragging rights as the fastest man at the championships. He won the men’s 100m in 10.46 seconds, breaking the beam a hundredth of a second ahead of Malaysia’s Jonathan Anak Nyepa.
The photo-finish cameras had to identify Gurindervir Singh (Punjab) as the winner of the bronze medal by a margin of 0.0044 seconds from his teammate Harjit Singh.
But it was the manner in which Amiya Malik stormed to the finish that caught everyone’s eye. For someone who had not gone under 10.50 seconds in a long while, he will cherish this drought-ending victory.
MP Jabir (AFI) once again stamped his authority on the men’s 400m hurdles meet record, winning the final in 49.41 seconds. He improved on the mark of 49.67 seconds set by Ayyasamy Dharun (Tamil Nadu) last year. Dharun himself, running only his third hurdles race since recovering from an injury, will be pleased that he clocked 49.50 seconds for the second place, leaving T Santhosh Kumar (Services) in the third place.
Earlier, in a close finish, Haryana’s Rahul Rohilla, 23, won the men’s 20m race walking head of the more seasoned K Ganapathi (AFI) and Sandeep Kumar (Services). The Group B winner of the event in the National Race Walking Championship in Chennai in February, he finished on top of a better field this time.
Long jumper M Sreeshankar, meanwhile, leapt to 7.93m and stormed his way into the final as the best in the field.