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Tintu Luka betters Shiny's National record

SPLIT, Croatia: Tintu Luka lived up to her potential and her coach P.T. Usha's forecasts on Saturday. Running in only her second race at the highest international level, the 21-year-old Indian shattered Shiny Wilson's National record of 1:59.85s in the 800 metres, while settling for the fifth place in the IAAF-VTB Bank Continental Cup here.

Luka clocked 1:59.17s to better Shiny's 15-year-old record set in the SAF Games in Chennai. She was representing the Asia-Pacific team in this meet formerly known as the World Cup.

Former World champion Kenyan Janeth Jepkosgei won in 1:57.88, with Jamaican Kenia Sinclair taking the silver in a season best 1:58.16. European champion Mariya Savinova suffered only her second defeat of the season, while finishing third with a timing of 1:58.27.

Britain's Jennifer Meadows was challenged all the way for the fourth by the gallant Luka, but the Indian eventually had to settle behind the Englishwoman who clocked 1:58.88.

“If the opening lap is within the 57.2s range, Tintu should come through smoothly and strongly in the second lap. Then, there could be the possibility of a sub-two-minute,” Usha had said before leaving Delhi.

Usha's confidence and Luka's determination to live up to her coach's expectations saw her clock an outstanding time that is the best in Asia since 2009.

Luka led the opening lap in a rather modest 58.04s. She only had the seventh best rating in the field containing some of the top runners this season. Yet, she was prepared to battle it out with them right into the finishing straight where the superior ‘kick' of the top-rated stars was bound to prove decisive.

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