Darshan Singh, Varsha Devi secure maiden National Cross Country victories -
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Darshan Singh, Varsha Devi secure maiden National Cross Country victories

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Khel Today Bureau

Kohima: Darshan Singh (Services) and Varsha Devi (Railways) finally kept their tryst with the men and women’s crowns in the National Cross Country Championships by winning their 10km events in the picturesque but tough course, made more challenging by 60 percent humidity and gusts of wind, here on Saturday.

Having played key roles in their respective team’s victories, their joy was enhanced even more as they claimed the South Asian titles as the second SAFF Cross Country Championships was run concurrently. They tasted international success on appearance, having had to miss out on the 2020 competition in Sri Lanka – postponed at first and then moved here.

After the early jostling for the lead, 25-year-old Darshan Singh was bunched in the front with his Services team-mates, Rajendra Nath, Deepak Singh Rawat, Dipak Suhaug, defending champion Parasappa Madevappa Hajilol and Railways Narendra Pratap Singh even before the runners were midway through the opening loop of 2km. He never lost rhythm or position.

Soon after Rajendra Nath and Darshan Singh pulled away from the others after the 5km mark, Darshan Singh stepped up the pace a shade to gain a handy lead. He was hardly challenged over the last two laps and won by a 24-second margin. Having finished fourth and sixth the last two years, victory would have tasted sweet indeed,

In the women’s race, Rebi Pal (Uttar Pradesh) opened briskly but the six Railways runners dominated the race. The 27-year-old Varsha, silver medalist in 2020, pulled away from her team-mates on the final of the five loops of 2km to win by a small margin. Gujarat’s Reena Bachau Patel prevented a Railways’ sweep of six places by beating last year’s winner Sonika.

Uttarakhand’s Akash Patel and Jharkhand’s Ashakiran Barla won the men and women’s U20 events while Ritik Sharma who hails from Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir and Aakancha Kerketta, originally from the Chota Nagpur belt but who has been training in Nilgiris and competing for Tamil Nadu won the boys and girls u18 crowns.

One of Aakancha’s training partners, Walter Kandulna, who traces his roots to Musurmu village in Palamu district in Jharkhand but represents Tamil Nadu, completed a hat-trick of medals in the National Cross Country Championships with a silver medal in the boys u18 6km race to add to the U16 gold in 2020 and silver last year.

The results:

National Championships

Men (10km): 1. Darshan Singh (Services) 31:08.00; 2. Dipak Suhaug (Services) 31:32.00; 3. Rajendra Nath (Services) 31:36.00. Team: 1. Services (Darshan Singh, Dipak Suhaug, Rajendra Nath and Deepak Singh Rawat) 10 points; 2. Railways 44; 3. Uttarakhand 61.

Women (10km): 1. Varsha Devi (Railways) 37:14.00; 2. Manju Yadav (Railways) 37:26.00; 3. Preenu Yadav (Railways) 37:38.00. Team: 1. Railways (Varsha Devi, Manju Yadav, Preenu Yadav, Munni Devi) 10 points; 2. Himachal Pradesh 113; 3. Nagaland 148.

Men U20 (8km): 1.  Akash Patel (Uttarakhand) 25:58.00; 2. Prashant Choudhary (Delhi) 26:00.00; 3. Pankaj Kumar (Uttar Pradesh) 26:02.00. Team: 1. Uttar Pradesh (Akash Patel, Pankaj Kumar, Love Chaudhary, Vinit Rathi) 19 points; 2. Delhi 35; 3. Maharashtra 52.

Women U20 (6km): 1. Ashakiran Barla (Jharkhand) 22:47.00; 2. Drashtiben Pravinbhai Chauhan (Gujarat) 22:53.00; 3. Maya Kumari (Jharkhand) 23:03.00. Team: 1. Maharashtra (Vishakha Sanjay Salunkhe, Shivani Kulkarni, Pallavi Chandrakant Jagdale, Bhagyashree Bhaskar Bhandari) 38 points; 2. Haryana 66; 3. Rajasthan 67.

Boys U18 (6km): 1. Ritik Sharma (Jammu and Kashmir) 19:50.00; 2. Walter Kandulna (Tamil Nadu) 19:54.00; 3. Sujit Tikode (Maharashtra) 19:54.00.

Girls U18 4km: 1. Aakancha Kerketta (Tamil Nadu) 14:38.00; 2. Sonam (Delhi) 14:49.00; 3. Ruhi Bohra (Delhi) 14:52.00.

Boys U16 2km: 1. Aman Kumar (Haryana) 6:00.00; 2. Priyanshu (Uttarakhand) 6:03.00; 3. Harish Mullu (Andhra Pradesh) 6:06.00.

Girls U16 2km:  1. Basanti Kumari (Tamil Nadu) 7:06.00; 2. Pranathi (Karnataka) 7:13.00; 3. Heena (Haryana) 7:14.00.

SAAF Championships: 

Men 10km: 1. Darshan Singh (India) 31:08.00; 2. RNS Pushpakumara (Sri Lanka) 33:12.00; 3. Pal Mukesh Bahadur (Nepal) 34:08.00. Team: 1. India (Darshan Singh, Dipak Suhaug, Rajendra Nath) 6 points; 2. Sri Lanka 16; 3. Nepal 28.

Women 10km: 1. Varsha Devi (India) 37:14.00; 2. Pachchai Rajpura (Nepal) 38:48.00; 3. MSP Madhumali Perera (Sri Lanka) 39:38.00. Team: 1. India (Varsha Devi, Manju Yadav, Preenu Yadav) 6 points; 2. Sri Lanka 19; 3. Nepal 20.

Men U20 8km: 1.  Akash Patel (Uttarakhand) 25:58.00; 2. KMJD MAdushan (Sri Lanka) 29:24.00; 3. Karki Badal (Nepal) 29:20.00; Team: 1. India (Akash Patel, Prashant Choudhary, Pankaj Kumar) 6 points; 2. Sri Lanka 17; 3. Bangladesh 30.

Women U20 (6km): 1. Asha Kiran Barla (India) 22:47.00; 2. Budha Ram Maya (Nepal) 23:36.00; 3. Rinky Biswas (Bangladesh) 24:03.00. Team: 1. India (Ashakiran Barla, Drashtiben Pravinbhai Chaudhri, Maya Kumari) 6 points; 2. Sri Lanka 21; 3. Nepal 25.

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