Ranchi: Making their intentions clear, Kerala kicked off their campaign on a positive note at the 34th National Junior Athletics Championships at the Birsa Munda Athletics Stadium here on Friday, winning three gold, one silver and two bronze, on day one.
Ancy Sojan (U-18 girls' long jump), Nirmal Sabu (U-20 boys' long jump), and Divya Mohan (U-20 girls' pole vault) struck gold for the state.
Kerala won their first medal of the meet through Blessy Kunjumon in the U-18 girls' pole vault. She bagged silver by scaling 2.80 metres, finishing behind Tamil Nadu's V Pavithra who clinched gold with a jump of 3.10 m.
Ancy, a student of Fisheries HSS, Nattika, won the first gold for the state by clearing a distance of 5.97 m in the U-18 girls' long jump event. Deepnashi Singh of Uttar Pradesh (5.91 m) and Manisha Merel of Odisha (5.88 m) stood second and third respectively.
In the U-20 girls' pole vault, Kerala won both the gold and the bronze. Divya, a native of Erattayar in Idukki district, landed the gold with an effort of 3.20 m. G Sindhushree of Karnataka (3.10 m) took silver while Soumya V S, a native of Pulloorampara in Kozhikode, settled for bronze by scaling 2.90 m. Divya is a student of St Peter's College, Kolenchery, while Soumya studies at Alphonsa College in Pala.
Kerala's team captain and a student of SAI Thiruvananthapuram, Megha Mariyam Mathew secured bronze in the U-20 girls' shot put event with a throw of 13.35 m. Uttar Pradesh's Anamika Das (14.41 m) and Yogita of Haryana (13.50 m) bagged the gold and the silver respectively.
Nirmal Sabu, who hails from Vizhikkathodu near Kanjirappally in Kottayam, walked away with gold in the U-20 boys’ long jump event with a leap of 7.45 m in his third attempt. Gaurav of Haryana (7.32 m), and Krishna Sharma who represented AFI MP (7.26 m) took silver and bronze respectively.
'A prodigious talent'
Karnataka’s Shaili Singh, who set a new national record in U-16 girls' long jump, trains at the Anju Bobby Sports Academy in Bangalore and is being coached by Anju’s husband Robert Bobby George.
The fourteen-year-old Shaili leaped to a distance of 5.94 m in her last attempt to register the record and grab the yellow metal.
"Her personal best was 4.89 m when she joined the academy eight months ago. She's a prodigious talent and the amount of progress she has made in a short span of time is extraordinary. She is capable of breaking my national record in the near future," Anju told Manorama.
Kavya M of Tamil Nadu accounted for silver with an effort of 5.38 m while Haryana's Jyoti took bronze with a distance of 5.30 m.
Stars of the day
Among the other star performers of the day were Jasmine Kaur and Renu of Punjab and Haryana's Anjali.
In the U-16 girl's shot put event, Jasmine hurled the iron ball to a distance of 14.27 m to eclipse the national record of 14.21 me set by Paramjot Kaur two years ago at the Junior National Championships in Coimbatore. Anjali, who finished second, too bettered the national record with a distance of 14.22 m.
Renu shattered the meet record in the U-20 girls' long jump event with a jump of 6.22 m. She erased the previous meet record of 6.19 m set by Asian Games silver medalist V Neena at the 2010 edition of the Junior National Championships in Bengaluru.
On day two, there will be as many as 40 finals in different categories, including 100 m and 200 m sprint events that Kerala are expected to dominate.
The four-day meet will conclude on Monday.