Mumbai: Twenty six teams participated in the 44th edition of the National Athletics Championships which concluded on Sunday in Mumbai. The Athletics Championships included more than fifty track and field events, and while high profile athletes like Anju Bobby George and K M Binu did not participate in the three-day meet, other Olympians were there to represent their disciplines. Olympian Soma Biswas was the clear favourite and she had a good start and won by a significant margin. "100m hurdles is the first event in the heptathlon. I need to improve on my speed and compete more at the international level," said Soma Biswas, winner of the 100m hurdles. Scope for improvement And though many of the top athletes did pull out since they have not had time to recover from Athens, competitions like these help them stay fit and improve on their performances though some would have liked greater audience and athlete participation. "The younger athletes should be encouraged to participate and there should also be enough people to watch and cheer," said Manjit Kaur, winner of the 200m event. "On an international level, we are not so behind in the 400 m but we need to work harder and with more sincerity to do better. If we do so we can win medals at international events," said S Geetha, winner of the 400 m event. Long way to go Like S Geetha, Neelam Singh too has just returned from Athens. She won the Women's Discus easily with a throw of 57.21 meters. The discus champion who has already participated in two Olympics believes that while national meets are important she hopes to take part in more international competitions to further improve at the next Olympics. "Our standard has improved. In discus it was never that 3 would qualify for the Olympics. All of us did 60m and more. It's not like there were 3 people so why did we not get a medal. The standard is better than before and we'll continue to improve," said Neelam. All the athletes who have represented India at Athens have won their events extremely convincingly. But they all recognise that on an international level to win a medal both the Indian sports officials and athletes have a lot of work and a long way to go.
Topics : Athletics