KOCHI: Yet another meet has come and gone by with nothing much to shout about as the athletes failed to live upto their expectations at the 50th National Open Athletics Championship which concluded on Tuesday.
Much was expected from the athletes, many of them internationals, after the recent Federation Cup Athletic championship at Ranchi but to the dismay of the sports loving people of the state, they came up with mediocre display.
Besides, the meet was shorn of its glory with some prominent names, including Sini Jose giving it a miss.
Former sprint queen P T Usha said except for S Gayathry (Tamil Nadu) and Tintu Luka (Kerala), there was hardly any outstanding performance in the track events.
"This is the start of the season and that might be the reason for the low performance of the athletes," Usha said.
On some athletes skipping the meet, Usha said, "Training alone is not sufficient, participating in competitions is equally important.If we treat the meet as an important one, then the federation must ensure that everyone participates," she said.
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She added that India should win a medal or two in this year's Commonwealth Games in Delhi, but it will be difficult to predict the winner.
Usha was disappointed with Kerala athletes showing in the meet, saying they perform well in the junior category but fail in the senior level.
Arjuna awardee Mercy Kuttan, who runs the 'Mercy Kuttan Athletics Academy' here, emphasised the need for the athletes to participate in all the meets.
Even though Railways dominated the meet and won the overall title in a row for the sixth time, the decreasing medals tally might cause some worry for the Railmen, who had bagged a total of 50 medals.
Railways had pocketed 57 medals at Bhopal in 2009 and 60 at Kochi in 2008, while a dip was also seen in their gold medal haul which was 27 in 2008, 22 in 2009 and 18 this year.
The meet had also witnessed a dearth in new records as only five records including a National Record was set in the edition.
Railways, who proved a cut above the rest, had hands in two of the records. Gayathry of Tamil Nadu, Tintu Luka of Kerala, Md Abdul Najeeb Qureshi of Andhra Padesh, showed great promise in bagging a golden double in the four-day meet.
Railways Sudha Singh was the lone athlete who broke a National Record, by clinching the gold in 3000 M Steeplechase.
Tintu (800 m), Renjith Maheshwari (Rlys-Triple), and Kavita Raut (Mah-10000 m) and Elam Singh (Services-3000 Steeplechase) also came up with sterling performance to rewrite the meet records.
Gajanan Upadhya of Railways (Pole Vault), Kavya Muthanna (Kar-High Jump), and Ankit Sharma (MP-Long Jump) also caught the eyes with their performances.
The hot and humid conditions that prevailed in Kochi might have been a cause for the poor performance of the athletes, but that cannot be an excuse with the amount of training and facilities the athletes are undergoing, sports enthusiasts feel.