Ashwini clinches historic gold

Udupi girl becomes first ever athlete from Karnataka to win an Asian Games medal

Ashwini clinches historic gold

Golden Run: India’s AC Ashwini en route to winning the 400M hurdles gold at the Asian Games in Guangzhou on Thursday. REUTERS

A C Ashwini and Joseph Abraham, two athletes of contrasting stature and styles, cornered the medals that mattered in the 400M hurdles in an unprecedented double, lending an Indian flavour to the fourth night of athletics programme at the Aoti Main Stadium.

Karnataka girl Ashwini, who has made sensational strides this season, ran a well-judged race to demolish her rivals in the women’s event in a personal best of 56.15 seconds. A little later, it was Abraham’s turn to break the barrier and he stunned the field in a season’s best of 49.96 seconds, becoming the first Indian to win the event in Asian Games history.

The two gold medals took India’s tally to four gold, one silver and three bronze in athletics — the country had won two gold and a silver on the opening day while two bronze medals arrived on day two. On Thursday, Tintu Luka fetched the third bronze from women’s 800M.

Ashwini had installed herself as a favourite in the women’s hurdles after a terrific run in the semifinals on Wednesday. In the final, she ran at a steady pace, with Japan’s Myabi Tago and China’s Wang Xing and Satomi Kubokura, another Japanese leading the way initially. The Indian started making her move past the half-way mark and by the seventh hurdle, she had begun to catch up with the leaders.

Showing great strength, she overhauled her rivals one by one and powered past Kubokura before clearing the final hurdle and sprinting to the finish, becoming the first Indian since P T Usha in 1986 to win this event. Wang also overtook the Japanese for the silver while Jauna Murmu, the other Indian in the race, finished fourth in a personal best of 56.88.

Jubilant: India’s Joseph Abraham celebrates after winning the 400M hurdles gold medal on Thursday. APAbraham, the smooth-striding hurdler from Kerala, faced stiff challenge from Japan’s Asian champion Kenji Narisako and Naohira Kawakita but the Indian held his own in the initial stages and soon drew level with the leaders. He was the clear leader coming into the straight and despite Narisako’s desperate attempt, Abraham had the edge at the finish. The Japanese had more disappointment in store as he was disqualified for a technical infringement, elevating Saudi Arabia’s Bandar Yahya Sharahili to silver position and Kawakita to bronze. In a strange coincidence, Abraham had won silver at the Asian Championships last year on the same city, with the same time.

Earlier in the evening, Tintu Luka (2:01.36) was beaten to third place by Kazakhstan’s Margarita Matsko (2:00.29) and Vietnam’s Thanh Hang Truong (2:00.91). Tintu ran a better race than what she did at the Commonwealth Games, covering the first 400 in 57.82 seconds. The Indian looked in control as she upped the pace with three hundred metres to go but Margarita and Truong caught up with her in the straight before powering away to gold and silver.

“I am not satisfied with the race but happy that she got a medal. She has shown improvement and she will learn as she competes more,” said P T Usha, Tintu’s coach. The athlete said she felt a twinge in her hamstring coming into the straight and that prevented her from stepping it up in the final 100 metres.

Japan’s Chisato Fukushima, the 100M champion, completed a sprint double winning the 200M while Iran’s Sajad Moradi showed his class in the men’s 800, winning the gold in 1:45.45.

Results: Men: 200M: Femi Seun Gounod (Qatar) 20.43 seconds, 1; Kenji Fujimitsu (Japan) 20.74, 2; Omar Juma Alosalfa (UAE) 20.83, 3. S Sathya (India) 21.07, 6.
800M: Sajad Moradi (Iran) 1:45.45, 1; Adnan Almnfage (Iraq) 1:45.88, 2; Abdelrahman Musaab Bala (Qatar) 1:46.19, 3.
400M hurdles: Joseph Abraham (India) 49.96 seconds, 1; Bandar Yahya Sharahili (Saudi Arabia) 50.29, 2; Naohiro Kawakita (Japan) 50.37, 3.
Decathlon: Dmitriy Karpov (Kazakhstan) 8026 points, 1; Kim Kun Woo (South Korea) 7808, 2; Vu van Hyun (Vietnam) 7755, 3.
50km walk: Si Tianfeng (China) 3:47:04, 1; Li Lei (China) 3:47:34, 2; K Morioka (Japan) 3:47:41, 3.
Women: 200M: Chisato Fukushima (Japan) 23.62 seconds, 1; Vu Thi Huong (Vietnam) 23.74, 2; Guzel Khubbieva (Uzbekistan) 23.87, 3. S Geetha (India) 23.91, 5.
800M: Margarita Matsko (Kazakhstan) 2:00.29, 1; Thanh Hang Truong (Vietnam) 2:00.91, 2; Tintu Luka (India) 2:01.36, 3. Sinimole Paulose (India) 2:06.95, 7.
100M hurdles: Lee Yeon Kyung (South Korea) 13.23 seconds, 1; Natalya Ivoninskaya (Kazakhstan) 13.24, 2; Sun Yawei (China) 13.27, 3.
400M hurdles: A C Ashwini (India) 56.15 seconds, 1; Wang Xing (China) 56.76, 2; Satomi C (Japan) 56.83, 3.
Triple jump: Olga Rypakova (Kazakhstan) 14.78 metres, 1; Xie Limei (China) 14.18, 2; Thitima Muangjan (Thailand) 13.85, 3.
Javelin throw: Yuki Ebihara (Japan) 61.56 metres, 1; Juan Xue (China) 58.72, 2; Li Lingwei (China) 57.51, 3. S Saraswathi (India) 47.43, 10.

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