Jinson Johnson braved heat and humidity on Sunday to win the 1,500m after clocking a season’s best of 3 minutes, 39.32 seconds in Race B at the Indian Grand Prix 5 in Chandigarh.
The 32-year-old, who had not competed prominently in the last two years following an injury he suffered while training abroad showed signs of regaining the kind of form that enabled him to win gold at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games.
Johnson, representing Kerala, only had Rahul to push him and the Delhi runner ran him close, clocking 3:39.83 to finish second. The performance will boost Johnson’s confidence going into the Hangzhou Asian Games. Ajay Kumar Saroj, who ran an impressive 3:38.24 despite elimination in the heats at the Budapest World Championships is the other 1,500m entry at the Games.
The opening day of the two-day meet, which provides a chance for select athletes to meet the federation’s (AFI) Asian Games qualification norms, also saw Delhi’s Amoj Jacob, a member of the men’s 4x400m relay squad, finish the best in the individual event. Jacob, running in the 400m Race E, clocked 45.92 seconds.
In women’s 400m, Tamil Nadu’s R Vithya Ramraj was the fastest, clocking 52.40 seconds to win Race A. Her race had all the likely relay squad members, with extra focus on Jyothi Yarraji. The 100m hurdles Asian champion who has also been fielded in the 200m at Hangzhou, finished sixth clocking 53.91 seconds. The 23-year-old could be roped into the 4x400m relay squad as India look to boost their medal count though it raises workload concern for the Andhra Pradesh athlete.
The men’s and women’s 4x100m relay races will be run on Monday and both squads will be selected for the Asian Games if they achieve the qualification time set for them. It is 39 secs for men and 44.5 secs for women.
In women’s 100m, experienced Odisha sprinter Srabani Nanda was the fastest, clocking 11.77 secs in Race B, with Nithya Gandhe (11.85s) and Aishwarya Dhaneshwari (11.94s) second and third, respectively.
Promising middle-distance runner Harmilan Bains of Uttar Pradesh pulled out of the women’s 1,500m as it turned out that she would be the only participant. She is, however, due to run the 800m on Monday.
The other event of interest was men’s javelin. Kishore Kumar Jena of Odisha, fresh from finishing an impressive fifth in the Budapest Worlds, did not reach anywhere near the 84.77m he threw in the Hungarian capital. However, his effort of 82.53m in his opening round was enough to top the competition. His next two throws also crossed the 80-metre mark (80.74m, 81.56m). Vikas Yadav of Uttar Pradesh was a distant second (72.88m).
Abhishek Pal of Uttar Pradesh won the men’s 5,000m clocking 14:24.32. Sanjivani Baburao Jadhav of Maharashtra won the women’s 10,000m clocking a modest 33:27.44.