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India won a record 29 medals, including 12 gold, 5 silver, 12 bronze at the 22nd edition of the Asian Athletics Championships, the country’s best show since 1985 in Jakarta. While some of the medals were historic — men’s 4×400 relay gold after 42 years — and youngsters proved their mettle by winning at a major championships, it will be wise not to get carried away by the performances of some of the winners.
Gold after 17 years
Gold: 85.23 PB: 86.48
After a foul and two attempts during which he failed to touch 80 metres, the 19-year-old came into his own. He registered 83.06, 80.99 and 85.23 – the last throw helping him clinch gold. What makes Chopra’s performance commendable is that he beat a field which included eight of the top-10 throwers in Asia this season.
Would have won silver at Incheon Asiad
Gold: Nirmala Sheoran (52.01)
Nirmala is the Asian season leader in 2017. However, No.2 and 3 on this list – Salwa Eid Nasser and Kemi Adekoya of Bahrain didn’t participate. 52.01 would have fetched her silver at the Incheon Asiad and the Wuhan edition of the Asian Championships in 2015. She had already qualified for the London World Championships by meeting qualifying standards at the Federation Cup in Patiala.
Supermom wins gold
Women’ shot put
Gold: Manpreet Kaur (18.28)
Personal best: 18.86
The mother of a five-year-old daughter would have won silver if she had thrown this distance at the previous edition of the Asian Games. China’s Gong Lijiao, the Asian Games gold medallist and ranked No.1 in the 2017 Asian Season list wasn’t in the fray. Manpreet had booked a World Championship berth at the Asian GP.
Current best in Asia
Gold: Muhammed Anas (45.77)
Thirty-seven quarter-milers participated in the heats but once again the Japanese and the Bahrainis were not at the championships. Anas, the Asian leader in 2017, would have won bronze at the Incheon Asian Games and the 2015 Asian Championships. Anas had booked a World Chmapionship berth at the Indian Grand Prix in New Delhi in May by clocking his personal best which met qualifying standards
Historic but well short
Gold: Ajay Kumar Saroj (3:51.37)
The 20-year-old Saroj has booked a World Championship berth by virtue of winning gold at the continental championships. But a look at the qualifying standards for the World Championships which is set at 3:36.00 shows that Saroj has a long way to go to become a world-class athlete. Saroj’s gold was also India’s first since 1989.
Mountain to climb
Women’s 3000m steeple chase
Gold: Sudha Singh (9:59.47)
The 32-year-old made the event a one-horse race which was expected. The top three in Asia, all from Bahrain, weren’t at the meet but going purely by timing this was one of the slowest races in recent times. Sudha is making a comeback after suffering from swine flu but she has a mountain to climb in terms of timing.
Work in progress
Gold: Swapna Barman (5942)
Barman produced her personal best in this gruelling seven-event competition in a field which included Japan’s Megu Hemphill, who was the leading athlete before the championship in Bhubaneshwar. Like Sudha and Saroj, Barman qualified for the World Championships by winning gold, but was way short of the qualifying standard of 6200.
When the cats are away…
Gold: G Lakshmanan (14:54.48)
Gold: G Lakshmanan (29:55.87)
The pull-out of Bahrain helped the 27-year-old bag the double. In the 5K, the top-five runners this season belong to the gulf emirate. In the 10K, none of the top runners, including Bahrain’s Abraham Cheroben and the nine Japanese, participated in the event.
Gold: PU Chitra (4:17.92)
The 22-year-old is a rising star and beat a field including Asian leader Japan’s Ayako Jinnouchi. Like Saroj, she has also booked a World championship berth. However, the entry standard for the London Worlds stands at 4:07.50.
First since 1975
Men’s 4×400 metre relay
Gold: Kunju Muhammed, Amoj Jacob, Muhammed Anas, Arokia Rajiv (3:02.92)
The Indian team posted the best timing in Asia this season on way to winning gold, India’s first title win in men’s 4×400 metre relay since Seoul 1975.
Future is bright
Women’s 4×400 metre relay
Gold: Debashree Mazumdar, MR Poovamma, Jisna Mathew, Nirmala (3:31.34)
Nirmala and Jisna are the ones to watch out for the future. Jisna got India the vital lead in the third-leg and Nirmala, despite a poor
baton exchange produced a blistering anchor leg run to produce an Asia leading time.