Ranchi: Former champions Kerala had to be content with second place overall at the 34th National Junior Athletics Championships at the Birsa Munda Athletics Stadium which concluded on Monday.
Haryana, who wrested the top spot from Kerala after six years in Hyderabad last year, once again asserted their supremacy by amassing 166.5 points to take home the overall title.
Kerala compiled 134.75 points to finish runners-up.
The only silver-lining for Kerala came through Aparna Roy who annexed the individual 'best athlete' honour in the girls' U-18 category.
The medals were slow in coming for Kerala on the first three days of the four-day meet, however, they made a strong comeback on the final day by clinching 17 medals including five gold, seven silver and five bronze.
The athletes from the state made amends for the team’s poor start by finishing their campaign in a blaze of glory and grabbed medals right from the first event – the U-20 girls' 10 km race walk – to the final event of the day – the 4x400 m relay.
Ancy Sojan emerged the ‘golden girl’ for Kerala by striking the yellow metal in the U-18 girls’ long jump, 200 m and medley relay categories.
As many as 14 junior national records and 24 meet marks were created in the meet.
Three athletics from the state, who were widely expected to win gold in their respective events, were forced to withdraw after being down with fever. They were Vishnu Priya (400 m), Ansu Joseph (2,000 m steeplechase), and Mridhula Mariya Babu (200 m). Some other athletes from the state, who competed despite suffering from fever, could not perform to their potential.
However, Sandra Babu showed great determination by making light of her running temperature to wrest gold in the U-18 girls’ triple jump by covering a distance of 12.73 m. The event, which was originally scheduled for 6 am on Saturday, was postponed to Sunday morning due to bad light.
Sandra had been suffering from fever and cough even since she landed in Ranchi after the two-day horrendous train journey. “If the event was held on Sunday as per the schedule, I could not have won a medal,” said Sandra, a native of Kelakam in Kannur.
Medal winners for Kerala (Day 4)
Gold: Abitha Mary Manuel (U-20 girls’ 400m, 55.49s); Divya Mohan (girls’ U-20, pole vault, 3.20m).
Silver: Aleena Varghese (girls’ U-16, 100m hurdles, 14.92s), Elga Thomas (girls' U-16, 400m 58.12s); Gayathri Sivakumar (girls' U-18, high jump, 1.73m); Adarsh Gopi (boys U-18 1500m, 3:58.41s); Blessy Kunjumon (girls' U-18 pole vault, 2.80m).
Bronze: Muhammed Fayis (boys' U-20, 110m hurdles, 14.07s), Sandra AS (girls' U-18 400m, 56.25s); Anugraha C (girls’ U-14 100m, 13.22s); Abhinav C (boys’ U-18 100m, 10.93s); Soumya VS (girls' U-20, 2.90m); Nevil F Fernandez (boys’ U-20, 100m, 10.95s); Minnu P Roy (girls’ U-18 1500m, 4:40.33s).