The seasoned M. R. Poovamma stayed steady and won the women’s 400m comfortably but there were some big surprises in the Indian Grand Prix-1, the national athletics season-opener for seniors, in Patiala on Thursday.

The 30-year-old Asian bronze medallist defeated fellow-national camper Kiran Pahal, 10 years her junior and a girl who surprised many when she took the silver with an impressive 52.73s in her previous meet, the 2019 National Open in Ranchi. Poovamma clocked 53.45s, a good time to start the season.

Some of the country’s biggest names skipped the meet and many of those who turned up stayed away from their prime events. Like Muhammed Anas, the national record holder in the men’s 400m, who made his 100m debut on Thursday and produced a big upset. The Asian Games silver medallist shocked national record holder Amiya Kumar Mallick while finishing second to Krishnakumar Rane…

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