Bhubaneswar: Shot putter Manpreet Kaur and long distance runner G Lakshmanan grabbed gold medals on a remarkable opening day for India at the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships as the hosts won seven medals to sit atop the medal tally.
V Neena and Nayan James bagged a silver and bronze in women's long jump while Vikas Gowda, Sanjivini Yadav, Annu Rani added a bronze each in the men's discus throw, women's 5000m race and javelin throw respectively.
Heavyweights China ended the day in second position with one gold and two silver medals.
Birthday girl Manpreet opened India's gold medal account with a career second best throw of 18.28m. She upstaged defending champion Chinese Guo Tianqian to give herself a perfect birthday gift at the packed Kalinga Stadium.
Tianqian took the silver with a best throw of 17.91m while Aya Ota of Japan got the bronze with 15.45m.
She was expected to win the gold today as she was best this season -- 18.86m at Asian Grand Prix in Jianhua (China)) in April -- among the eight competitors in the absence of world number four Gong Lijiao of China (19.56m).
The Asian Championships winner gets automatic berth for the World Championships to be held in London next month but Manpreet, who hails from a village near Patiala in Punjab, has already qualified for the global flagship event with her own national record-improving effort of 18.86 in China.
The 27-year-old Lakhsmanan then gave India the second gold with an unexpected win in men's 5000m race. Lakshmanan, who won a bronze in the previous edition in Wuhan in 2013, improved on that by running away with the gold in 14 minutes 54.48 seconds.
Yaser Salem of Qatar was second in 14:55.89 while Tariq Ahmed of of Saudi Arabia took the bronze in 14:56.83.
India added one silver and one bronze in women's long jump through V Neena and Nayan James by clearing distances of 6.54m and 6.42m respectively. Vietnam's Bui Thi Thu won the gold with a best jump 6.54m, the same as that of Neena, but adjudged the winner as her second best effort of 6.44m was better than that of the Indian's 6.32m.
In the women's 5000m, Sanjivini Yadav added to India's medal tally with a bronze by clocking 16 minute and 00.24 seconds, behind Kyrgyzstan's Daria Maslova (15:57.95) and UAE's Alia Mohammed (15:59.95).
However, in the men's discus throw, Vikas Gowda failed to defend his title but grabbed a bronze with a best effort of 60.81m. Gowda's long-time nemesis at the Asian circuit, Ehsan Haddadi of Iran took the gold with a best throw of 64.54m while Malaysia's Muhammad Irfan took the silver with 60.96m.
Annu Rani ended the day for the hosts by adding a bronze with an effort of 57.32m.
Manpreet, who returned to the circuit last year after taking some time off due to the birth of a child, said she was happy to have crossed the 18m mark.
"This is my second best throw of my career and I am very happy for this performance. Before the event, I told myself that I should go beyond the 18m mark and anything extra beyond that would be satisfied," she said after having a lap of honour of the Kalinga Stadium.
Published Date: Jul 07, 2017 12:11 am | Updated Date: Jul 07, 2017 01:47 am