New Delhi: Asian Games bronze medallist O P Jaisha stole the show by winning the women's 5000m race on the opening day of National Open Athletics Championships even as a few top stars pulled out of the meet, here on Sunday.
Jaisha, who was representing Railways, won the race in 16.13.61 ahead of another Railway athlete L Surya (16:19.99) and Kavita Raut (16:32.03) of ONGC. Jaisha had won a bronze in 1500m in Incheon Asian Games.
Services athletes swept the top three positions in men's 5000m race with Nitender Singh (14:16.28) coming first ahead of Kheta Ram (14:16.67) and Man Singh (14:17.39).
All the podium finishers returned with mediocre performances in the season-ending event.
Jaisha said that she took part in the season ending event as she wanted to give a gold to her employers.
"I have not been in training after winning bronze in Asian Games. But I wanted to give a gold to my department (Railways) and so I took part. In the absence of Preeja (Sreedharan), I knew that I can win the gold. It was easier to win the race in her absence but my timing would have been better had she been there," Jaisha said after the race.
"I will take part in the National Games for Kerala (early next year) and then my aim will be to do well in next year's World Championships (in Beijing). I have qualified for World Championships in 5000m and I now want to qualify in 1500m," she said.
"I am not an endurance runner and I don't want to do too many rounds. So, I prefer 1500m to 5000m," she added.
Asian Games silver medallist Manju Bala did not turn up in women's hammer throw though she entered her name for the event. In her absence, Gunjan Singh of Railways bagged the gold in 58.38m while Ritu Dhiman (Uttar Pradesh) and Sarita P Singh (Railways) were second and third in 56.26m and 55.65m respectively.
Another Asian Games silver medallist Khushbir Kaur pulled out midway into the women's 20km race walk event after she took part against the wishes of her Russian coach Alexander Artsybashev. Kushbir was leading by a big distance when she pulled out after covering around nine kilometers.
Sapna of All India Police won the race in 1:49:58 while Rani Yadav (Railways) and Rajni (All India Police) were second and third with timings of 1:52:29 and 1:52:48 respectively.
In the absence of national record holder K T Irfan, the men's 20km race walk event was won by Manish Singh Rawat of Uttarakhand in 1:33:17 while Chandan Singh (Services) and Gurmeet Singh (Uttarakhand) were second and third in 1:34:36 and 1:35:01 respectively.
The women's shot put event was won by Manpreet Kaur of Railways with an effort of 16.39m while Navjeet Kaur Dhillon (15.22m) of ONGC was second and Neha Singh (13.48m) of All India Police was third.
Kundan of Services won the men's pole vault event by clearing 5.06m while Praveen Kumar (ONGC) and Bala Krishna (Railways) were second and third with efforts of 4.90m and 4.85m respectively.
In other events, Asian Games medallists M R Poovamma (women's 400m), Rajiv Arokia (men's 400m) and Tintu Luka (women's 800m) won their respective heats.