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Luka shines on final day of Nat'l Games, SSCB emerge champions

Luka shines on final day of Natl Games, SSCB emerge champions

Thiruvanthapuram: Asian Games medallist Tintu Luka ruled the track on the final day of competitions as she smashed an 18-year-old meet record to win 800m gold before inspiring Kerala to 4x400m top spot in the 35th National Games Friday, with Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) notching up a hat-trick of overall titles by finishing atop medals table.

SSCB led the tally on account of a higher number of gold medals and emerged as the overall champions for the third time in a row. The team ended with 158 medals (91 gold, 32 silver and 35 bronze), followed by hosts Kerala, who rode on a strong athletics performance to total 161 (54 gold, 46 silver and 61 bronze) and Haryana (39 gold, 40 silver and 27 bronze).

On the final day of competitions, vociferous home supporters filled the athletics ground and Tintu's star turn made their day.

Protege of the legendary P T Usha and an outright favourite before the 800m race, Tintu lived upto the top billing as she freezed the clock at 2:01.86sec to win the gold and better the 2:03:08sec mark created by K C Rosa Kutty way back in 1997. Tamil Nadu's Gomathi Marimuthu was a distant second with a timing of 2:05.09sec, while Sini Markose ensured the hosts' presence on the podium with a bronze medal, clocking 2:06.37sec.

"I am very happy because I have broken the meet record. It was a good race for me. I am lucky to have a coach Like P T Usha. I would like to thank her for getting me so far," Tintu, an Asian Games gold-medallist in the 4x400m relay event and a silver-winner in the 800m, said after the race.

Asian Games bronze-medallist Lalita Babar also lived upto the favourite tag as she breached the meet record to clinch the 3000m women's steeplechase gold with a timing of 9:42.63sec -- a massive improvement on the previous mark of 10:40.81sec set in the last edition of the Games by Priyanka Singh Patel. Babar, representing Maharashtra, is also the national record holder in this event, which currently stands at 9:35.37sec.

"I had come here with the aim of breaching meet record and had I not participated in the 5000m race, I could have improved on the national record as well. Also, I had undergone after high altitude training and it was not easy adjusting to the heat and humidity but I am very happy with how I performed," she said.

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