Some success, some heartbreak for Indian athletics in 2014
Moderate success in the Commonwealth and Asian Games was the only high point of a low-profile year in which Indian athletics also had to deal with the heartbreaking story of rising woman runner Dutee Chand being barred from competitions for having more male hormones than permissible.
New Delhi: Moderate success in the Commonwealth and Asian Games was the only high point of a low-profile year in which Indian athletics also had to deal with the heartbreaking story of rising woman runner Dutee Chand being barred from competitions for having more male hormones than permissible.
The year also saw some respite from the doping menace, which had marred the Indian athletics scene in the last few years.
From topping the international body -- IAAF -- list in 2012 and many cases of doping violations last year, the scenario changed this year though the National Anti-Doping list show around a dozen athletes being sanctioned for testing positive for banned drugs this year as well.
On the field, Indian track and field athletes returned with just three medals in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in July-August while they still managed to contribute the most to the country's overall tally with a haul of 13 in the September-October Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
The Indians won just a gold, a silver and a bronze in the Glasgow CWG, a far cry from the 12 (2 gold, 3 silver, 7 bronze) in 2010 Delhi CWG. United States-based Vikas Gowda was the star Indian performer as he won the gold in men's discus throw with an effort of 63.64m.
His woman counterpart Seema Punia, however, had to be content with a silver with an effort of 61.61m. She had won the bronze in the 2010 Delhi Games women's discus throw.
Arpinder Singh went into the CWG with a big reputation after leaping to a national record 17.17m at the National Inter-State in Lucknow but returned with a bronze after a below-par effort of 16.63m.
In the Incheon Asian Games, the Indians won one more medal than the 12 they collected in the earlier edition in Guangzhou in 2010 but the gold count reduced from six to two.
Punia established herself as the top woman discus thrower in the country by winning the gold in Incheon with an effort of 61.03m.
Gowda, on the other hand, once again finished second behind his old nemesis and defending champion Ehsan Hadadi of Iran to settle for silver. The Indian has done better than the Iranian only once in 17 clashes he had in his career.
India continued their stranglehold in women's 4x400m relay event in the Asian Games as the quartet of Priyanka Pawar, Tintu Luka, Mandeep Kaur and M R Poovamma ran a brilliant race in Games record time of 3:28.68. This was India's fourth gold on the trot.
Khushbir Kaur (women's 20km walk), Manju Bala (womens' hammer throw), Vikas Gowda (men's discus throw), Tintu Luka (women's 800m) bagged a silver each while bronze winners were M R Poovamma (women's 400m), Rajiv Arokia (men's 400m), O P Jaisha (women's 1500m), Naveen Kumar (men's 3000m steeplechase), Annu Rani (women's javelin throw) and Inderjit Singh (men's shot put).
Doping menace receded from athletics, which in the last couple of years was turning into the dirtiest sport in the country, with no major positive case coming up this year.
India still has 19 athletes in the IAAF list of dope offenders. India were on top with 44 dope offenders in 2012.
Elsewhere, it was heartbreak for young Dutee Chand, who was barred from taking part in any event under IAAF's hyperandrogenism policy. She was found to have higher levels of androgen (hormones that play a role in male traits) above permissible limits for a female athlete in a test conducted in Bangalore.
Dutee, who won two gold in the Asian Junior Athletics Championships in Chinese Taipei, was banned by the AFI from taking part in any event. The 18-year-old Odisha sprinter from a humble background challenged the AFI decision and the IAAF's hyperandrogenism policy itself in the Court of Arbitration for Sports in Switzerland with the legal cost borne by the Sports Authority of India.
CAS recently gave an interim order, allowing her to take part in national events pending a final decision and she is likely to participate in the National Games in Kerala beginning January 31.
For former star long jumper Anju Bobby George, the year turned out to be a memorable one as her second place finish at the 2005 Monaco World Athletics Final was upgraded to a gold medal following a dope violation by a Russian competitor Tatyana Kotova.
Anju became the first Indian track and field athlete to win a gold medal in a major world event. Kotova's dope sample collected during the 2005 World Athletics Championships in Helsinki was found to contain traces of banned substance.
The IAAF had re-analysed the samples in line with International Olympic Committee's decision to retest eight-year old samples, dating back to 2004 Athens Olympics in order to deter dope cheats.
Woman 3000m steeplechaser Sudha Singh's silver medal at the 2013 Pune Asian Athletics Championships was upgraded to gold after Ruth Jebet, who won the race, was declared ineligible to represent Bahrain on nationality grounds by the IAAF.
A few of the Indians won medals in top international events including discus thrower Gowda's silver in the prestigious IAAF Diamond League Series in Doha. Gowda hurled the discus to a distance of 63.23m, finishing behind Poland's Piotr Malachowski, who took the top spot with a throw of 66.72m.
Khushbir Kaur and Gurmeet Singh won a bronze each in the men's and women's section respectively of the Asian 20km Walking Championship in Nomi, Japan.