Dhanalakshmi erases PT Usha’s 200m Federation Cup record

The Tamil Nadu sprinter clocked 23.36 seconds in the heats to rewrite a 23-year-old record held by Indian great PT Usha.

By Naveen Peter

Tamil Nadu’s Dhanalakshmi continued her fine form at the 24th Federation Cup national athletics championships to break the meet record in the women’s 200m at the National Institute of Sports (NIS), Patiala on Thursday.

Just days after getting the better of Dutee Chand for the 100m crown, the 22-year-old from Gundur — a village near Tiruchirappalli — rewrote a 23-year-old record held by the legendary PT Usha.

Competing in the second heats in the morning session, Dhanalakshmi was quick to get off the blocks and timed her run to perfection to cross the line in 23.26 seconds, four-hundredth of a second faster than PT Usha’s timing clocked in 1998.

Hima Das, competing for Assam, was second in 24.39 seconds while Delhi’s Simrandeep Kaur finished third in 24.92 seconds in the heats.

While the three made it to Friday's final, the gold-medal race is expected to be a closer one with Indian international Archana Suseendran and AT Daneshwari of Karnataka clocking competitive timings in their heats.

The penultimate day of the meet also saw the women’s 800 metres deliver some fine results.

While Delhi’s KM Chanda left everyone chasing her shadow with her blistering pace to win the gold in 2:02.57, it was the first time since 2002 that four runners breached the 2:04 barrier in the domestic circuit.

In a race that saw six runners manage a personal best, West Bengal’s Lily Das won the silver in 2:02.98 while Rio Olympian MR Poovamma completed the podium in 2:03.35.

Meanwhile, 2018 Asian Games gold medallist Swapna Barman took home the heptathlon title with a total points tally of 5,636 points over two days.

The 24th Federation Cup will conclude on Friday with the 200m taking centre stage at NIS Patiala.