Two national records were shattered with 100m sprinter Dutee Chand hogging the limelight on the opening day of the Federation Cup National Athletics Championships in New Delhi on Thursday.
Odisha athlete Dutee clocked 11.33secs in women's 100m dash to win the gold and erase Rachita Mistry's 16-year-old earlier national record of 11.38 secs.
Another Odisha athlete Amiya Kumar Mallick also broke the national record in men's 100m sprint by clocking 10.26 secs in the semifinals, thereby bettering the earlier national mark of 10:30secs set by Abdul Najeeb Qureshi in 2010.
Mallick, however, failed to finish at the podium in the men's 100m race finals due to left hamstring pull.
None of the athletes, however, could qualify for the Rio Olympics on the first day of the meet. The three-day championships, the first major event of the season, also served as the qualifying event for the Rio Games.
Dutee, 20, who won a landmark 'gender case' at the Court of Arbitration for Sports against the world athletics governing body IAAF in July last year, however, missed the Rio Olympics qualification norm of 11.32secs by one-hundredth of a second.
Her Odisha state-mate Srabani Nanda was second in 11.45secs while HM Jyothi, representing Canara Bank, was third in 11.46secs in the finals at the Jawaharlal Nehru tracks.
Dutee was banned from competitions in 2014 under IAAF's policy on hyperandrogenism and she filed an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sports in Lausanne which she won last year to clear the decks for her return to athletics.
An elated Dutee said that all her hard work and focus despite the distractions and disappointments in the last few years have given her rich dividends.
"I could not qualify for Rio Olympics but I am not disappointed by that. I am extremely happy, the national record is mine now. It is very early in the season, it's the first meet and I have three more months to qualify for the Rio Olympics," Dutee said after winning the race.
"I have gotten over all those disappointments related to my case (relating to IAAF's hyperandrogenism policy). After winning the case at the CAS, I have been focussing on my running and with the help of my personal coach (N Ramesh) and my well wishers, I could achieve this," said Dutee who trains at the Puellela Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad.
Asked about any changes in Dutee's running that led to her national record, coach Ramesh said, "Dutee always starts off the block quickly but she needs more power off the blocks so that she can finish the race strong. So we made changes that she would hit the block with more power so that she starts with more power, besides starting off the blocks quickly.
"I hope Dutee will now be included in the government's Target Olympic Podium Scheme. It will be better if she is sent for foreign training stint. Here in India the temperature will keep on increasing and chances for Rio qualification will be more in competitions outside the country. We will make a request to the sports ministry and Sports Authority of India."
In the men's 100m dash finals, Jyotisankar Debnath of Bihar took the gold in 10.41secs while Krishnakumar Rane (10.44secs) and Mohd Abdul Qureshi (10.50secs) were second and third respectively.
Amiya Kumar Mallick, who set a national record in men's 100m dash but finished fourth in 10.51secs said it was tough for an athlete to run three races in a day and that too 100m sprint.
"It is hard to run three races (preliminary heats, semifinals and finals) in a day. I had a left hamstring pull in the semifinals and so I could not do well in the finals," Mallick said.
Incidentally, Mallick was one of the athletes who breached the Rio Games qualifying time of 10.16secs at the Indian Grand Prix first leg held on April 24 at the same venue here. But his timing was of no use as it was recorded manually due to a power failure.
"I have three more months to qualify for Rio Olympics. I am a non-camper and am not among those sent to train abroad. I will approach the Athletics Federation of India to include me at the camp and send abroad for training. I hope to qualify for the Rio Olympics," he said.
In men's shot put, reigning Asian champion and Rio Games bound Inderjeet Singh was pushed to the second spot in an upset by Tajinderpal Singh Toor of ONGC who won the gold with a throw of 19.93m.
Inderjeet, who just returned from United States after a training stint with fundings from the government under the TOP Scheme, had a best effort of 19.17m to finish second. Inderjeet has a personal best of 20.65m.