Bhubaneswar, July 7: India secured popular, if unexpected, double gold in the 400m and metric miles on a stormy and rainy evening at the Kalinga Stadium here on Friday. The gold-rush enabled it stay on top of the medals charts with six gold, three silver and six bronze medals ahead of China’s four gold, three silver and three bronze.
Muhammad Anas and Nirmala Sheoran in the 400 were expected to come up with good performances and they lived up to the billing by storming to victories. It was the metric milers Chitra P U and Ajay Kumar Saroj’s gold medals that many may not have foreseen them to mint on the second day of competitions.
Their gold, coming as part of a 1-2 showing in the men’s 400m with Arokia Rajiv getting silver, combined with a consistent display by Tajinder Pal Singh Toor in the shot put circle and dapper Dutee Chand’s bronze in the women’s 100m, to help India overcome the twin disappointment of disqualification in the 4x100m relay and Amiya Kumar Mallick in the 100m semifinal.
Men’s 100m: An Asian junior champion in 2012, Iran’s Hassan Taftian pulled the rug from under defending champion Femi Seun Onugode (Qatar) to claim his maiden men’s Asian crown, winning by a hundredth of a second in a race that was delayed by the thunderstorm and by the two false starts that led to the disqualiciations of Malaysian Khairul Hafiz and China’s Tang Xingqiang. Taftian’s feat was commendable since he ceded ground at the start not only to Onugode but also to Chinese Taipei’s Yang Chun-Han. With steely nerves, he powered his way to lunge ahead of both to win the affinity of the beam in 10.25 seconds.
Men’s 400m final: Muhammad Anas and Arokia Rajiv made it a memorable 1-2 for India in a sharp drizzle that slowed them down but just that bit. The 23-year-old Anas won comfortably in 45.77 seconds. And while Arokia Rajiv won silver in 46.14, Amoj Jacob, the third Indian in the fray was denied a medal by Oman’s Ahmed Mubarak al-Saadi (46.39). Anas showed that he had recovered from having to work hard to win the re-run semifinal in the morning. Quang Coch, the Vietnamese who had beaten Amoj Jacob and Arokia Rajin the semifinals on Thursday, was unable to present a challenge to the Indians on Friday night.
Men’s 1500m final: Asian Junior champion Ajay Kumar Saroj’s powerful kick with 250m left saw him surge ahead of the race leaders to win a delightfully unexpected gold for India in 3:45.85. But then he had shown in the first round that he was capable of sustaining a gear-shift over a longer distance. Jamal Hairane (Qatar), who has a better time this season than Saroj, had to be content defending his second position rather than expend energy in pursuit of the Indian – and concede ground to Moslem Niadoost of Iran. India’s other runner Siddhantha Adhikari finished a creditable fifth behind Iraq’s Adan Taes.
Men’s triple jump: Zhu Yaming, Chinese National Champion, came up with a wind-aided 16.82m effort to strike gold while the Philippines Mark Harry Diones and fellow-Chinese Xu Xiaolong, finalist in the Rio Olympic Games last year and fifth in Wuhan in 2015, took silver and bronze with 16.45m jumps. India’s best bet Arpinder Singh was the fourth jumper who breached the 16m mark on a rain-swept day that saw the competition halted because of a thundershower. Kazakhtsna’s Roman Valiyev, bronze medallist in 2015, was a disappointing eighth, unable to go past 15.87m despite a strong wind assisting him.
Men’s shot put: Iran’s Ali Samari had four foul throws but his career-best effort over 19.80m on his second attempt was good enough to win him gold ahead of India’s Tajinder Pal Singh Toor. The 23-year-old Indian, enjoying competing before a large audience for the first time, came up with a series of throws that read 18.49, 19.58, 19.77, 19.11, and 19.61 besides a foul on his fifth attempt. Those who watched this contest kept willing Tajinder Pal Singh Toor to sustain his challenge till the very end. Ivan Ivanov (Kazhaktan) held the lead after the first round with a throw of 19.41m and was an easy bronze medal winner ahead of Omprakash Singh Karhana (India).
Decathlon: Not yet 21, Thailand’s Sittisak Singhon settled gold for himself with splendid efforts through two days and 10 disciplines for 7732 points. But after a poor pole vault (4.00m) in the afternoon, he had to come up with something special in javelin to consolidate his position at the top of the charts. He responded with a 60.64m that gave him the luxury of coasting through the 1500m in 5:07.61 and yet win the crown. China’s Guo Qi, who had looked to up the ante in the morning, dropped out of silver reckoning after managing 52.61 with the javelin. Japan’s Kazuya Kawasaki took the silver with 7584 points. India’s Abhishek Shetty finished fifth – 15 points short of his career best effort -- ahead of Japan’s Tsuyoshi Shimzu, who had the misfortune of no-heighting at pole vault.
Women’s 100m: The tall and long-striding Kazakh sprinters Viktoriya Zyabkin and Olga Safronova beat back a game challenge by home favourite Dutee Chand to take gold and silver in 11.39 and 11.45 respectively. Running in a steady drizzle, the Kazakhs took off well and stayed ahead. Dutee, not blessed with much height, sought hard to overcome what looked like a sluggish start to try and bridge the gap but to no avail. Viktoriya Zyabkina who won silver the last time I Wuhan, powered ahead to claim gold while Olga Safronova and Dutee Chand took their medals at the continental level.
Women’s 400m final: Nirmala Sheoran blazed her way through rain and on a wet track to claim gold in a creditable 52.01 seconds. The 22-year-old opened up a good lead on the back straight and did not look as if she would tire. As the only other runner to dip in under 53 seconds, Vietnamese Quach Thi, an Asian Games silver medallist, beat 18-year-old Jisna Mathew (53.32) and M R Poovamma (53.36) to spoil India’s aspirations of a medal sweep in the event. As the first track final of the night, it set a great tempo for India.
Women’s 1500m final: Few would have expected 22-year-old P U Chitra to land gold ahead of the seasoned Ayako Jinnouchi (Japan), who owns the season’s best in the event. But Chitra, who had done well to remain in touch with the leading bunch throughout which included China’s Geng Min and Japan’s Nozomi Tanaka. The daughter of agricultural workers came up with a burst when he was on the back straight for the last time in the race and held on to the lead in comfortable style. For someone who won 3000m gold in the Asian school championship in Malaysia four years ago, she showed that she had come of age.
Women’s high jump: Nadiya Dusanova (Uzbekistan) added the AAC 2017 to her Asian Games bronze medal when she cleared 1.84m in rain at the Kalinga Stadium. The 29-year-old mastered the conditions better than the rest of the field, four of whom cleared 1.80m and the other six got to 1.75m. She needed to clear 1.84m to win gold. For, she had dropped the bar once both at 1.75 and 1.80m. Hong Yong’s 22-year-old Yeung Man Wei, who joined the fray at 1.75m, had two good clearances, and Chinese Wang Xueyi and Liu Jingyi as well as Thailand’s Wanida Boonwan were the others who got to try their hand at 1.84m.