Bespectacled Balakumar Nithin (Tamil Nadu) set the KIYG track alight at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex athletics stadium with a personal best-equalling 100m dash in the boys Under-21 category, gaining the decisive lead over the final few strides here on Friday night.
Nithin clocked 10.76 seconds, the same as when he took bronze at the All-India Inter-Universities Championship in Moodbidri and raised his right arm aloft, aware that he had sealed what seemed like an improbable win after 70m. A sluggish start saw him trailing badly but the Chennai-based 19-year-old was eventually a comfortable winner.
The line-up at the start was formidable since it included national junior champion Ajith Kumar and silver medallist M. Karthikeyan, Nithin's State-mates, and bronze medallist Nevil Francis Fernandez of Kerala. None of them was among the medals tonight.
Four other runners dipped in under 11 seconds in what was a fast race. Karnataka’s Prajwal Mandana lost the lead and earned silver, one-tenth of a second behind Nithin. The Mohammed Riaz-trained sprinter drew satisfaction from the victory. His time here was faster than Ajith Kumar’s winning time of 10.84 seconds in the National meet in Ranchi.
The bustling Nisar Ahmed, who was persuaded by his coach Sunita Rai to compete here despite being in off-season training, won the Under-17 sprint in a slowish 10.96 that led a Delhi 1-2 with Anshul taking silver ahead of Andhra Pradesh’s Bharat Yadav.
Karnataka’s A.T. Daneshwari beat Maddali Supriya yet again for the title of the fastest girls Under-21 athlete here. She had secured a win in the National Junior Athletics Championships in Ranchi by a 0.16 second margin. Daneshwari’s time of 11.99 seconds tonight was slower than in the November final but the gap was wider this time.
Maharashtra's Sudeshna Shivankar claimed gold in 12.48 seconds in the girls Under-17 100m final on a night that saw the four sprint golds head to different States.
Sudeshna’s gold came as a consolation for the home state after its premier Under-17 sprinter Avanitka Narale was credited with a DNF (Did Not Finish) in the semi-final heats on Thursday.
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