Maharashtra claims honours on opening day

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Pune, Feb 2 (UNI) The gutsy long-distance runners of hosts Maharashtra dominated the opening day's proceedings and bagged top honours in five out of the six events in the 13th Federation Cup National Cross Country championship, being hosted by the Nagpur District Athletic Association under the aegis of the parent body the Maharashtra Amateur Athletic Association (MAAA), which got underway here today.

As expected, Mukesh Kumar of the Indian Army overcame a strong field and won the demanding 12 km men's race clocking 38 minutes 09.3 seconds. Kumar, however, had to put up his best as Irrapa D Akki also from army and B C Tilak also of army put up a gallant fight all the way.

Akki claimed the silver with timing of 38:09.5, while Tilak bagged the bronze at a time of 38:09.7. The gritty runners from the army bagged five out of the six positions to make a sweep of the men's event. Mukesh and Akki had bagged the gold and silver medals in junior section at the same meet held at Ghwahati three years before. Parshuram Bhoi of Maharashtra opened the lead in the first four kilometres but could not keep the pace, giving an advantage to the army runners to take the lead.

Earlier, Nagpur Sports director Manik Thosare formally inaugurated the championship being hosted by the Orange City for the first time, in which over 500 long distance runner from 20 affiliated units of the MAAA, including boards, vied for supremacy in the two-day meet.

The other races were flagged off by MAAA president and former Olympian Adile Sumariwala, Dr Shrayu Taiyawade, fomer MLA Ashok Dhawad, Organising Committee Chairman Atal Bahadur Singh and Ramesh Bhute.

Among others, who flagged off the girls under-18 races, included international Charulata Naigaonkar-Behere, Aparna Thakare, Kalpana Chikale, Vidya Dhapodkar, Vaishali Shetrapal and Archana Vasule.

The women's eight km race was monopolised by Kamlesh Baghel of Uttar Pradesh 30:58.7. Kamlesh, an employee of South Central Railway, made a gallant effort and surged ahead in the last two kilometres. She got the better of Vaishali Chatare, also of railways but representing hosts Maharashtra, had to be content with the bronze producing a time of 31:09.1, while Vijaymala Patil of Maharashtra in a final burst of sprint claimed the silver in a time of 31:01.1 Manisha Salunkhe, a rank outsider from Maharashtra, however, was the toast of the day winning the 6 km race for Girls under-20 in a time of 22 minutes 49 seconds and in the process put paid to the aspirations of international Swati Gadhve and Monica Raut of Maharashtra. Sukanya Mal of Uttar Pradesh claimed the silver breezing past the finish in a time 23.03 mts and Sawati Gadhave won the bronze clocking 23.24 mts.

In the Oranage City run, to be hosted tomorrow, luminaries from various walks of life will participate. It will be flagged off by Nagpur University Vice-Chancellor Dr S N Pathan and Nagpur Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh.

Oraganising Committee chairman and former mayor Atal Bahadur Singh announced that the championship has a total prize money of Rs four lakh. The championship has added significance as the Indian cross-country team will be selected to take part in the world cross-country championship, to be held in England in the second week of February.

Following are the results: Men (12 km): 1 Mukesh Kumar (Army) 38:09.3 sec; 2 Irrappa D Akki (Army) 38:09.5 sec; 3 B C Tilak (Army) 38:09.7 sec.

Women (8 km): 1 Kamlesh Baghel (UP) 30:58.7 sec; 2 Vijaymala Patil (Mah) 31:01.1 sec; 3 Vaishali Chatare (Mah) 31:09.0 sec.

Boy's (u-20) (8 km): 1 Suresh Kumar Patel (UP) 25:42 sec; 2 Bhau Lambar (Mah) 25:54 sec; 3 A D Abid Ahmad (Guj) 26:08 sec.

Girl's (u-20) (6 km): 1 Manisha Salunkhe (Mah) 22:49 sec; 2 Sukanya Mal (UP) 23:03 sec; 3 Swati Gadhve (Mah) 23:24 sec.

Boy's (u-18) (6 km): 1 Ramshankar (UP) 19:43 sec; 2 C K Ranjit (Goa) 20:01 sec; 3 Gopal Patel (UP) 20:07 sec.

Girl's (u-18) (4 km): 1 Rekha Patel (UP) 16:15 sec; 2 Asmita Ghanekar (Mah) 16:19 sec; 3 Ashwini Murghare (Mah) 16:22 sec.

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