Pune In a disappointing turn of events, city athlete and gold medal hopeful Avankita Narale ended her 100m Khelo India campaign at the semi-final stage, after failing to start her semi-final race on Thursday at the Balewadi sports complex. This news will come as a shock for fans in the city, as they were optimistic that the 15-year-old would begin her new year on a winning note, with a gold medal to her name.
Having rewritten Dutee Chand’s 200m junior record last year, everyone expected the 15-year-old to put up a similar performance at the 100m event at Khelo India 2019 as well, but failure to hear the gunshot at the start of the race ended her dreams.
After her ‘did not finish’ DNF in the 100m on Thursday, the disappointment on her face was evident and she assured everyone that she will come back all guns blazing in the remaining two events at Khelo India 2019. “When the race began, I did not hear the sound of the gun shot and the other competitors did, so I could not begin the race. Now I have two more events left and I’m going to focus on giving my best in them.”
Her coach Mahesh Patil said, “When the gunfire went off, she didn’t hear it and thus failed to start the race, which was a major disappointment. Had she started she would’ve definitely qualified for the final. What hurts even more is that it was almost a guaranteed medal for her had all things gone as per plan.”
The Maharashtra team has filed a protest letter against the timing of the gunfire and the clap, claiming that it did not happen in a synchronised manner, due to which Narale could not begin the race. When quizzed about this, nobody from the Khelo India committee made an official statement.
However, all hope is not lost for the dynamic 15-year-old as she still has two more bites at the cherry when she competes in the 200m and 4x100m relay events later in the tournament.
Prior to the event, Narale spoke about winning a medal for her family, given their dire financial straits. Her father Santosh Narale gave up working as a plumber to be with her and she knows the importance of claiming a medal at the event. She said, “I am sure that I will be able to help my family overcome tough situation, but I have been blessed to have them and other mentors by my side.”
WHAT HT SAW
* Every race begins with a gunshot and clap sound, both of which go off at the same time to ensure athletes hear it.
* At the girls 100 metres semi-final on Thursday, the gun shot went off but the clap to our ears came a fraction of a second later. Avantika Narale took a start, but then stopped. The other sprinters however took off and Narale was declared as ‘did not finish’ (DNF).
100m girls semi-final
1. Jeevanji Deepthi (Tamil Nadu) - 12.51 seconds
2. Aleena Varghese (Kerala) - 12.75 seconds
3. Sweety Verma (Uttar Pradesh) - 12.76 seconds