Bengaluru: International star Priya Mohan of Jain University completed the 200m-400m double on an eventful penultimate day of action at the Khelo India University Games 2021 here on Monday.
The medals won in athletics helped hosts Jain University maintain their lead at the top of the medals table even as competitions in track and field, shooting, karate, wrestling, table tennis and lawn tennis came to an end of the penultimate day.
The men’s and women’s kabaddi and the men’s football finals are scheduled for Tuesday.
A majority of the day’s action was at the athletics venue, with events rolling off at regular intervals. The action started with the women’s 200m in the morning. Among the contenders was Priya Mohan, representing Jain University who had won gold in the 400m with remarkable ease. Despite the win, Priya was unhappy with her performance, holding back tears when talking about how the rain had wreaked havoc on her plans to set a personal best and maybe break a record.
“I’d prepared really hard for this and I was in peak form, but the weather wreaked havoc,” she said.
“I was hoping to do a 51 in the 400m. This is a great track, my home track, I’d called all my friends, but, well, sometimes things don’t go your way.”
Putting aside the disappointment of not having broken the record in her pet distance, the 19-year-old picked up right where she left in the 200m early in the morning.
The race pitted her against the 100m winner Dutee Chand, giving her a chance of repeating her triumph at the All India Inter-University Games earlier this year when Dutee was absent from the final.
On Monday, while Dutee raced out of the blocks to take the lead into the first 100m, Priya ran a brilliant bend to overtake her rival and cement her stature in the event. While happy to have beaten Dutee, Priya expressed disappointment again at not having broken her own record – proof if any was needed, of the hunger in an athlete so young.
“I’ll be travelling to Europe now to try and qualify for the Senior Worlds, and improve my timing. This is a good start, gives me confidence,” she said.
A late end to the evening prior had not diminished any excitement or energy at the Kanteerva Stadium, a host of athletes and coaches turning up to support their peers and wards.
Among them was Olympian and 2010 Asian Games bronze medallist heptathlete Pramila Aiyappa. Aiyappa has been a constant presence at the athletics competition. “Kanteerva is my home stadium,” she laughs. “I’ve trained here for years. If it hosts a meet, I’m here to mark attendance.”
There was an added motivation to be at the track for the KIUG 2021 – six of her wards were competitors at the event. One of them, Mangalore University’s W Nihal won silver in the Men’s 400m and ran the anchor leg for Mangalore University’s 4×400 relay team that won gold.
“The Games are a great added event for the calendar,” Aiyappa said. “In the future, I hope they consider expanding the field to 16 (currently the top 8 athletes/teams from the All India Inter-University qualify for the Khelo India University Games). It will, in my opinion, make the competition bigger and better. More athletes, healthier competition, more fun.”
In the women’s high jump, Bharathidesan University’s A Kevinaa Ashwini won bronze with a jump of 1.76m. Sitting in the stands was her father, Nallusamy Annavi, a former national record holder, urging her on. The silver medallist, Rekha found support from her sister Jyoti (who had won gold in the javelin the night prior). The duo train under Hanumaan Singh at his famed academy in Fatehabad.
Action at the athletics came to a close in the afternoon, but the day’s events hadn’t. There were medals all around in the four different venues, with table tennis, women’s football and shooting on the roster.
At the end of the day, just as it began, the host Jain University stayed top of the pile.
The real surprise was Lovely Professional University and Guru Nanak Dev University, who both moved above reigning champions Panjab University into second and third place. The former is just one gold off the leaders, Jain University. All 127 universities have logged a medal and 65 have won a gold at the games.