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Golden day for Manjit

NEW DELHI, JUNE 28. The Indian women's 4x400m relay team almost booked a ticket to the Athens Olympics with a new National record of 3:27.35s to win the gold in the second leg of the 2004 Asian Grand Prix series in Colombo.

India, which was ranked 20th by the IAAF in the previous Athens relay qualification list, will now move up several places to be in strong contention to grab an Olympic berth. The top 16 nations will qualify for Athens with the cut-off date set for July 21.

The quartet — Manjit Kaur, K. M. Beenamol, Rajwinder Kaur and Chitra K. Soman — clocked India's first sub 3:28 time to erase the earlier mark set by Beenamol, Paramjit Kaur, Jincy Philips and Manjima Kuriakose in Chennai on July 31 (2000). Last week in the first leg of the Grand Prix at Songkla (Thailand), it had clocked 3:29.53s.

India ended Sunday's meet with three gold, four silver and two bronze medals. The men's 4x400m relay team, comprising Ramachandran, Bhupinder Singh, K. M. Binu and Satbir Singh, also kept its Olympic hopes alive, finishing in 3:04.30s to win the gold. However, the timing was slower than 3:03.15 set by the same quartet in Songkla.

The India `B' team finished a distant third in 3:26.34 behind Sri Lanka which came second in 3:04.46.

The third gold was won by Manjit in the women's 400m, recording a time of 52.52 seconds. The silver winners were Manoj Lal (men's 400m), Navpreet Singh (men's shot put), Neelam J. Singh (women's discus) and J. J. Shobha (women's long jump).

Shobha, whose pet event is heptathlon, also won the bronze in the 100m hurdles, clocking 13.91 seconds.

Manoj Lal came far behind Sri Lankan Rohan Pradeep Kumara Fernando (45.78) in 46.75s. Navpreet, who won the gold in the first leg, managed only a disappointing 18.13m.

Neelam came second with an effort of 60.63m, much below the 64.30m that fetched China's Li Yan Feng the gold.

Shobha leaped to a distance of 6.63m in women's long jump to establish herself as India's No. 2 in the event behind world No. 4 Anju George.

The results (winners and top Indian finishes only): Men: 100m: Gennadiy Chernovol (Kaz) 10.50s; 200m: Yang Yaozu (Chn) 21.08s; 400m: 1. R. P. K. Fernando (SL) 45.78s, 2. Manoj Lal (Ind) 46.75s; 1,500m: Salah F. Fadallah (Sau) 3:40.42s; 4x100m: Thailand 39.58s; 4x400m: India 3:4.30s; Shot put: 1. Ahmad Gholoum (Kuw) 18.42m, 2. Navpreet Singh (Ind), 18.13; Triple jump: Gu Junjie (Chn) 16.11m; High jump: Manjula Kumara Wijesekera (SL) 2.25m; Discus: Abbas Saimimi (Iran) 63.77m.

Women: 100m: Luy Bov Perepelova (Uzb) 11.38s; 200m: Sushantika Jayasinghe (SL) 23.38s; 400m: Manjeet Kaur (Ind) 52.52s; 1,500m: Tatiana Borisova (Kaz) 4:10.35s; 100m hurdles: 1. Feng Yun (Chn) 13.24s; 3. J.J. Shobha (Ind) 13.91s; 4x100m: 1. Japan 44.39s; 4x400m: India 3:27.35s; Discus: 1. Li Yan Feng (Chn) 64.30m, 2. Neelam Singh (Ind) 60.63m; Shot put: Li Meiju (Chn) 17.92m; Long jump: 1. Leyang Shu Yun (Chn) 6.66m, 2. J. J. Shobha (Ind) 6.63m. — Agencies

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