Indians sparkle in opening leg

Win 12 medals at Bangkok meet

Indian athletes produced an impressive performance by bagging 12 medals, including four gold, in the first leg of the Asian Grand Prix series here on Saturday.

M R Poovamma (women’s 400m), Sahana Kumari (women’s high jump), Jithin Thomas (men’s high jump) and Nitin Rawat (men’s 5000m) bagged a gold each while Siddhanth Thingalaya (men’s 110m hurdles), Rajiv Arokai (men’s 400m), Kheta Ram (men’s 5000m), Renjith Maheswary (men’s triple jump) and Nikhil Chitarasu (men’s high jump) won a silver apiece.

Anu Mariam Jose (women’s 400m), Arpinder Singh (men’s triple jump) and Mukesh Kumari (women’s javelin) won a bronze each.

National record holder Maheswary missed the World Championships qualification standard by just two centimetres.

Ace woman discus thrower Krishna Poonia, however, finished a disappointing fourth with a below-par performance, while Om Prakash Karhana also came a cropper with a sixth-place finish in men’s shot put.

Poovamma gave India the first gold of the day by clocking 52.97 secs in women’s 400m race, a shade below her 52.75 sec-effort which had fetched her a gold at the Federation Cup National Athletics Championships at Patiala last month. She had also won gold in the same event in two of the three-leg Asian Grand Prix series last year.

Anu Mariam Jose bagged the bronze in 53.95 sec while Subashini Rasnayake of Sri Lanka won the silver in 53.35 seconds. Sahana Kumari gave India the second gold in women’s high jump by clearing 1.86m. Nadiya Dusanova of Uzbekistan was second in 1.86m and Wanida Boonwan of Thailand was third with 1.83m. Sahana, who competed in the London Olympics last year, holds the national record of 1.92m.

It was a 1-2 finish for India in men’s high jump with Jithin Thomas clearing 2.18m while Nikhil Chitarasu too came up with 2.18m but was adjudged second as he cleared the height in more attempts than his compatriot. Sun Zhao of China was third in 2.14m.

Nitin Rawat, who took part in the first leg on invitation from the organisers, fetched the fourth gold for India as he clocked 14:35.03 sec to win men’s 5000m race.
His Indian team-mate Kheta bagged the silver in 14:55.12 sec while Sri Lanka’s D L Samarajeewa was third in 15:10.91 sec.

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