Tamil Nadu’s S Dhanalakshmi, who had stunned Dutee Chand in the 100 metres final, beat Hima Das, another star athlete, in the 200 metres semi-final heats, clocking a new meet record time of 23.26 seconds, in the Federation Cup National Senior Athletics Championships, in Patiala, on Thursday.
Her victory over Assam’s Hima Das in the semi-final heat lifted her to the top 10 in the Indian all-time list.
Archana Suseendran (Tamil Nadu) won her semi-final heat in 24.07 seconds to raise expectations of an interesting final.
It must be stated that both Das (23.10) and Suseendran (23.18) have faster times than the one blazed by Dhanalakshmi on Thursday.
Dhanalakshmi's time bettered P T Usha's long-standing meet record of 23.30 seconds, set in Chennai in 1998.
Having run 24.05 seconds when finishing third in the Federation Cup in Patiala two years ago, Dhanalakshmi recorded a 23.47s in the Tamil Nadu State Championships in Sivakasi on January 24, thus making it the second time she was clocking in under 23.50 seconds.
Returning to competition after a long break, Swapna Barman won the heptathlon event with a total of 5636 points, her 1.82m high jump mark making up for the 2:29.98s in the 800m.
Mareena George (Kerala) finished second, a poor shot put performance denying her a shot at beating the 2018 Asian Games champion in the gruelling seven-event challenge.
The front-running Krishan Kumar (Haryana) beat back a stiff challenge over the last 100m by Ankesh Chaudhary (Himachal Pradesh) in the men's 800m. Those trailing Krishan Kumar at the bell may have expected him to slow down but he chugged on.
Ankesh Chaudhary stepped up the pace and even held the lead for a brief while on the home straight but he could not power on.
Delhi's Chanda won the women's 800m in a personal best time of 2 minutes 2.57 seconds. It was the fastest time clocked by an Indian woman since Tintu Luka's 2:00.58 in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. It was a brave start-to-finish effort by Chanda, but she finished outside the Olympic Games qualification mark set at 1:59.50s.
Lili Das (Bengal) moved up from sixth place with 150m left and timed her shift to the outside lane nicely to be able to slip past MR Poovamma (Karnataka) with only a few strides left for the finish.
It was Lili Das's personal best time too, the 2:02.98s improving on the 2:03.46s that she clocked in Guntur in July 2017. Poovamma (2:03.35) also earned her personal best.
In fact, with Rachna (Haryana), Shalu Chaudhary (Delhi) and Aishwarya Mishra (Maharashtra) also clocking their best times, the women's half-mile saw the top six runners attain new peaks respectively.
Talking of personal bests, Gracena Glistus Mery (Tamil Nadu) attained one with a 1.84m effort to win the women's high jump. The 20-year-old cleared that height on her second attempt after having needed three tries to cross the bar when it was placed at 1.81m. Her previous best of 1.79m was achieved in the University trials in Bhubaneshwar on March 8.
The last time an Indian woman jumped higher than Gracena Mery's 1.84m was back in 2017 when heptathlete Swapna Barman cleared 1.87m. The girl from Kanyakumari thus becomes the latest Indian high jumper to join the 1.80m club.