Preeja Sreedharan and Mayookha Johny lived up to their reputations by clinching gold in women's 10,000m and long jump respectively as the 51st National Open Championships began with below par performances by all the athletes in Kolkata on Saturday.
Forget about achieving a meet record, none of the athletes could get anywhere close to their personal best as the four-day meet got off to a dull start on rain-soaked day at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan and adjoining SAI complex.
Mayookha had high hopes to book a London Olympics berth in long jump but she faltered in getting the qualification mark, picking up two fouls en route to earning a gold.
The Kerala girl, who represents ONGC, began with a 6.41m before achieving her gold-medal effort of 6.54 -- short of the Olympic B qualification norm of 6.65. In the third attempt, Mayookha slipped to 6.45 before having two foul jumps.
Mayookha, who had already secured an Olympics berth in triple jump, will now have to wait for events outside the country as this being the last meet in AFI calendar year.
Her long time rival and statemate Prajusha M A, representing Railways, clinched the silver medal, while Bihar's Tanzila Khatoon bagged the bronze.
In the morning session, Asian Games gold medallist Preeja Sreedharan lived up to her reputation by winning the women's 10,000m race. Preeja was nowhere near her Guangzhou Asian Games gold medal effort of 31:50.47 as the Kerala athlete clocked a poor 35:56.09 to earn Railways the top honours. Her track rival Kavita Raut (35:56.13) finished a fraction of seconds behind to earn ONGC a silver medal.
In the men's 10,000m final held at 6am in the morning, ONGC's Suresh Kumar clinched the gold with a timing of 30:18.16.
In absence of national record holder Vikas Gowda, Vipender Singh bagged the discus throw gold medal with an effort of 50.52m as Services had top two finish with Dharamraj (50.31) bagging the silver.
The athletics meet was declared open by the state Sports Minister Madan Mitra as the opening ceremony was reduced to a farcical affair with 'no-show' by the athletes who opted to stay out of the march-past on a wet and humid afternoon.
However, amid all the gloom, defending champions Railways stood tall in the medal standings picking up three gold, three silver and three bronze medals.
Railways dominated the proceedings in the javelin and hammer throw events, picking up top-two finishes.
S Saraswati and Mukesh Kumari clinched the gold-silver in javelin throw, while Manju Bala and Anitha Abraham reigned supreme in javelin picking up the top two places.
New comers ONGC, boasting some big names, including Mayookha, occupied the second place with two gold and one bronze. Services were on third spot with one gold and two silver medals.
Men's: 10,000m: 1. Suresh Kumar (ONGC; 30:18.16); 2. Kheta Ram (SSCB; 30:24.36); 3. Soji Mathew (Rlys; 30:43.39).
Discus Throw: 1. Vipender Singh (SSCB; 50.52m); 2. Dharamraj (SSCB; 50.31m); 3. Sunil Kumar (Rlys; 49.27m).
Women's: 10,000m: 1. Preeja Sreedharan (Rlys; 35:56.09); 2. Kavita Raut (ONGC; 35:56.13); 3. L Surya (Rlys; 36:09.00).
Long Jump: 1. Mayookha Johny (ONGC; 6.54m); 2. Prajusha M A (Rlys; 6.45m); 3. Tanzila Khatoon (Bhr; 6.09m).
Javelin Throw: 1. S Saraswati (Rlys; 49.05m); 2. Mukesh Kumari (Rlys; 46.29m); 3. Anu Rani (UP; 46.05m).
Hammer Throw: 1. Manju Bala (Rlys; 56.71m); 2. Anitha Abraham (Rlys; 53.26m); 3. Sarita (Guj; 53.20m).