Kolkata: If non-performance by the athletes was the talking point so far in the ongoing 51st National Open Athletics here, the organisers on Monday were left red-faced following the cancellation of women`s 3000m steeplechase event because of lack of competitors.
The cancellation meant that Asian Games gold medallist Sudha Singh was denied a chance to have a go at the London Olympics berth as only she and her Railways colleague Kiran Tiwari turned up for the final at SAI Complex at Salt Lake.
"We need at least three competitors for a final. But there only the two Railways athletes -- Sudha and Kiran -- showed up. So it had to be cancelled," chairman of technical committee C K Valson said.
Sudha, however, did not lose hope and said she would certainly secure her place for the Olympics by early next year.
"It happens sometimes. But I am not at all disappointed. I can look forward to next year," said Sudha.
Sudha was sure to secure a Olympic berth from here by achieving the `B` standard of 9:48.00.
"At training in Bangalore I was doing 9:49.00 regularly. So I was 100 per cent confident of qualifying from here. In fact, the timing will improve further by next year," she said.
Sudha, who had grabbed a gold in the Guangzhou Asian Games with a timing of 9:55.67, is one of India`s medal hopefuls at next year`s Olympics.
But the Uttar Pradesh girl only came to know about the cancellation 15 minutes before the meet when she was warming up.
In fact, the organisers made a mockery of themselves as the `start list` distributed among the media had four names -- that of Sudha, Kiran, Priyanka Singh Patel and Geeta Rani.
The four names were entered in the start list both from their state and employers` affiliations, something that the local organisers failed to notice.
Chairman of technical committee Valson admitted that there was a glitch.
"The state names should have been deleted (from the start list). It would have been come correctly from their respective offices itself," Valson said.
Notwithstanding the duplicacy, the actual list of participants should have been six from which only two showed up, something that irked the Athletics Federation of India director M L Dogra.
"We will take strong action against the units who have sent their participants names but did not turn up. They will not be allowed to take part in any further events of this championships," said Dogra.
Dogra, however, said there was nothing to worry about as far as Sudha`s Olympic qualification was concerned.
"She will get ample time early next year. There will be indoor as well as outdoor championships early next year from which she can make the cut. In fact, it will give her enough time to improve her timing," he said.
The penultimate day threw up another curious case in men`s 400m hurdles as Satender Singh and Avin A Thomas were adjudged gold medallists after a dead heat.
In a rare case, they could not be separated in the photo finish and both were awarded a gold each after clocking an identical 51.49s.
Earlier, in case of a dead heat there would be a re-run to break the deadlock.
"But it was amended after the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. We can have two winners now," Valson said.