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September 25, 2000
Neelam Singh finishes 26 out of 32
The Rediff Team
Neelam J Singh performed well below her potential and crashed out of the women's discus throw at the Olympic Games on Monday.
The Indian record holder hurled the discus to a distance of 55.26 metres to finish 14th in the Group B qualification round. The minimum qualifying distance was 63 metres.
Neelam, whose ratified national record stands at 61.41 metres, finished 26th overall out of 32 participants, split into two groups. At the Jakarta Asian Track and Field meet in August, she had thrown 60.75 metres, an effort that fetched her the gold.
Neelam, who has a personal best throw of 63.02 metres - - which has not yet been ratified by the Amateur Athletics Federation of India, started with a shocking 33.22 metres throw, improved in her second attempt by clearing 55.26 metres and then fouled on her third before finishing 14th in Group B.
It was yet another instance of an Indian athlete flattering at home and deceiving overseas. The minimum qualifying mark for the finals was 63 metres.
The list of 12 qualifiers was headed by Ellina Zvereva of Belarus (64.81m), Natalya Sadova of Russia (64.62) and Anastasia Kelesidou of Greece (63.64) in that order.
The men's long jump featured the name of India's Sanjay Kumar Rai, but against his name it was written 'NM' - - not marked.
Rai took the silver with 8.03 metres at Jakarta.
So far, it has been a disastrous outing for Indian athletes in Sydney, barring debutant woman quarter-miler K M Beenamol, who made the semi-finals through two qualifying heats before being beaten into eighth place in her semi-final heat under a downpour and in chilly weather conditions.
Beenamol, a silver medal winner at Jakarta in 51.41 seconds, which is expected to be ratified as the national record soon, timed 51.51 seconds , 51.81 and 52.04 respectively in three 400 metres outings at Sydney.
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