South Asian and National Cross Country C’Ships: Darshan and Varsha emerge as new champions

Darshan Singh of Services and Varsha Devi of Railways won the men’s and women’s crowns to help their respective boards maintain dominance in the 56th National Cross Country Championships.

While the institutions continued to hold their positions, the men’s and women’s categories saw new champions as Darshan and Varsha showed good form and endurance in negotiating the challenges of the picturesque but tough course set around the Indira Gandhi Stadium here on Saturday.

The athletes were further tested by the elements as the venue experienced persistent drizzles accompanied by high winds. The performance of Darshan and Varsha also helped India dominate the races in the second South Asian Cross Country championship, that was held concurrently. India made a clean sweep of the golds winning the men’s and women’s under-20 events with consummate ease.

The men’s and women’s gold winners provided the leadership to their colleagues to bring home all the medals on offer in the respective categories. Services won the top four positions in the men’s race as 25-year-old Darshan set the impetus right from the start.

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There was some early jostling for the lead as Darshan placed himself in front of his Services teammates like Rajendra Nath, Deepak Singh Rawat, Dipak Suhaug and maintained the lead to win by an easy 24-second margin. Defending champion Parasappa Hajilol was initially in the leading pack but later pulled out of the race.

In the women’s section Varsha showed her mettle in the decisive lap as she pulled away from her teammates in the fifth and final loop of 2 km to win by a relatively small 12-second margin. Railways’ Manju Yadav, Preenu Yadav and Munni Devi won the next three positions by an even slender margin but helped Railways regain the team honours that had lost to Haryana in the previous edition at Chandigarh.

Uttarakhand’s Akash Patel and Jharkhand’s Ashakiran Barla won the men and women’s under-20 events while Ritik Sharma and Aakancha Kerketta, who moved her base from the Chota Nagpur region train in the Nilgiris for Tamil Nadu, won the boys’ and girls’ U-18 crowns.

The results (National Cross Country championship):

Men’s (10 km): 1. Darshan Singh (Serv) 31:08s; 2. Dipak Suhaug (Serv) 31:32; 3. Rajendra Nath (Serv) 31:36. Team: 1. Services – 10 points; 2. Railways – 44; 3. Uttarakhand – 61.

Boys’ under-20 (8 km): 1. Akash Patel (UP) 25:58s; 2. Prashant Choudhary (Dli) 26:00; 3. Pankaj Kumar (UP) 26:02.

Boys’ U-18 (6 km): Ritik Sharma (J&K) 19:50; 2. Walter Kandulna (TN) 19:54; 3. Sujit Tikode (Mah) 19:54.

Boys U-16 (2 km): 1. Aman Kumar (Har) 6:00; 2. Priyanshu (Utk) 6:03; 3. Harish Mullu (AP) 6:06.

Women’s (10 km): 1. Varsha Devi (Rly) 37:14s; 2. Manju Yadav (Rly) 37:26; 3. Preenu Yadav (Rly) 37:38. Team: 1. Railways – 10 points; 2. Himachal Pradesh – 113; 3. Nagaland – 148.

Girls’ U-20 (6 km): 1. Ashakiran Barla (Jhar) 22:47s; 2. Drashtiben Chaudhri (Guj) 22:53; 3. Maya Kumari (Utk) 23:03.

Girls’ U-18 (4 km): Aakancha Kerketta (TN) 14:38; 2. Sonam (Dli) 14:49; 3. Ruhi Bohra (Dli) 14:52.

Girls’ U-16 (2 km): Basanti Kumari (TN) 7:06; 2. Pranathi (Kar) 7:13; 3. Heena (Har) 7:14.

SAAF Championships:

Men’s (10 km): 1. Darshan Singh (Ind) 31:08s; 2. R.N.S. Pushpakumara (SL) 33:12; 3. Pal Mukesh Bahadur (Nep) 34:08. Team: 1. India – 6; 2. Sri Lanka – 16; 3. Nepal – 28.

Men’s U-20 (8 km): 1.  Akash Patel (Ind) 25:58; 2. K.M.J.D. Madushan (SL) 29:24; 3. Karki Badal (Nep) 29:20.

Women’s (10 km): 1. Varsha Devi (Ind) 37:14s; 2. Pachchai Rajpura (Nep) 38:48; 3. M.S.P. Madhumali Perera (SL) 39:38. Team: 1. India – 6; 2. Sri Lanka – 19; 3. Nepal – 20.

Women’s U-20 (6 km): 1. Asha Kiran Barla (Ind) 22:47; 2. Budha Ram Maya (Nep) 23:36; 3. Rinky Biswas (Bangla) 24:03.

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