Triple jumpers Abdulla Aboobacker, Karthik Unnikrishnan sparkle with 17m efforts

Bhubaneswar, May 2 (PTI) Abdulla Aboobacker and Karthik Unnikrishnan became only the third and fourth Indian triple jumpers to break the 17m mark after taking the top two places with 17.19m and 17.10m respectively in a dramatic contest in the Indian Grand Prix 3 here on Saturday.

On an evening in which he fouled three of his first four jumps, 26-year-old Aboobacker found the rhythm, pace and elevation to be able to improve his personal best by 35cm with his fifth try to win his maiden gold in an AFI competition in the senior ranks.

His Air Force colleague, 28-year-old Unnikrishnan breached the 17m on his sixth and final try.

Eldhose Paul, who was leading the competition for four rounds, was unable to match his Kerala colleagues and settled for bronze.

The trio served a delightful treat to fans, but it was Aboobacker who met the World Championships qualifying mark.

The first Indian in the 17m club, Renjith Maheshwary pegged the National Record at 17.30m on July 11, 2016, in Bengaluru. Arpinder Singh’s 17.09m effort on June 29, 2018 in Guwahati was the last time an Indian celebrated breaching the 17m mark. Paul missed that by a mere centimeter in the Federation Cup in Kozhikode in April.

Earlier in the day, two 31-year-old athletes, Srabani Nanda of Odisha and Sarita Romit Singh of Uttar Pradesh comfortably won the women’s 200m and hammer throw events respectively.

Nanda, running her first national-level race on home soil since June 2018, won the 200m race in 24.04 seconds. She had run a season’s best of 23.68s in Kingston, Jamaica in March.

Rajashree Prasad of West Bengal (25.00s) looked like she would keep pace with Nanda initially but slowed down later and finished third behind Sonia (24.82s) of Haryana.

Sarita showed consistency, winning her third event this year with a best throw over 61.41m. Though she was short of her season’s best of 64.16m recorded in the Federation Cup in Kozhikode last month, she had reasons to be happy that each of her four legal efforts on Saturday went past the 60m mark.

Akshay Annappa Shetty (Maharashtra) claimed his first major national-level title when he won the men’s 200m in 21.86 seconds.

Having eased past home favourite Amiya Mallick in Race A, he had to wait to confirm his victory.

Aryan Ekka, an Odisha teenager, dipped under 22 seconds for the first time in winning Race B but was one-hundredth of a second behind Akshay.

Tamil Nadu’s G Deenadayalan took the men’s pole vault gold by clearing 4.60m. Bineesh Jacob (Kerala) and Manish Singh (Haryana) won silver medals with best efforts of 4.40m.


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