Indian athletes enjoy a fruitful day

Indian athletes enjoy a fruitful day

Kushbir Kaur wins silver while Poovamma, Arokia Rajiv and Manju add bronze to the kitty.

Kushbir Kaur added the silver lining while M R Poovamma, Arokia Rajiv and Manju Bala brought home a bronze each as the Indian track and field contingent enjoyed a fine Sunday at the 17th Asian Games here.

On a day when Qatari Femi Seun Ogunode ran a sizzling 9.93 seconds to smash the Asian 100M record, Kushbir threatened to capture the gold in the women’s 20km walk before settling for silver after being troubled by the two cautions she received.

Braving the early morning chill, the 21-year-old Punjabi covered the streets of Incheon in a timing of one hour, 33 minutes and 07 seconds, behind Lu Xiuzhi (1:31.06) of China but ahead of South Korea’s Jeon Yeongeun (1:33.18).

Poovamma and Arokia Rajiv then capped the day with contrasting performances in their respective 400 metres races, bagging a bronze each, while Manju took a surprise third place finish in the women’s hammer throw.

Kushbir began the race in promising fashion, setting the pace and maintaining the lead until the halfway when a first caution brought her back to second. 

A second caution around the 16km mark put extreme pressure on her and the Amritsar athlete slowed a bit to fall to third. With two kilometres to go, she decided to give it her all in her maiden Asian Games, kicking up pace to end second.

Poovamma, who arrived in Incheon as one of the genuine medal contenders for the country, was hit by a sluggish start. She, however, built up pace nearing the 200M mark and maintained the intensity while Bahrain’s Mujidat Adekoya charged ahead around the penultimate bend. Emerging into the home stretch in a close tussle with Thi Lan Quach of Vietnam and Sri Lanka’s Mudiyanselage Rasnayaka for the silver and bronze after Mujidat had already opened up a healthy lead, the 24-year-old Indian kept pushing herself, crossing the line third in 52.36 seconds. Mujidat won the gold in 51.59 while Thi clocked her personal best of 52.06 for the silver.

​"The gold was out of reach and I aimed for a silver,” said Poovamma. “I did make up for the slow start and tried my best in the final 50 metres. However, I'm happy to have won a bronze on my Asian Games debut. 

“A medal of any colour is good. I'm now targeting the 4x400M gold. Mandeep (Kaur) is coming back to form and even Ashwini (Akkunji) is hitting her strides. We are all geared up," she added.

Arokia Rajiv, who took the blocks just minutes later, then surprised himself with a third-place finish. Son of a school bus driver, the 23-year-old overcame a hamstring injury he suffered in the build up to the continental bash with a fine finish, timing a personal best of 45.92 seconds.

While Saudi Arabia’s Yousef Masrahi had the race won around the final bend, the focus of the country was on whether Arokia Rajiv or Kunhu Mohammad could bag a medal. In fourth position behind Abbas Abubakar and Yuzo Kanemaru, Arokia Rajiv sensed he could pull off a surprise podium finish, engaging in a fine battle with the duo before achieving it to send the Indian camp into delight.

With two-time defending champion and three-time World Championship bronze-medallist Zhang Wenxiu in the ranks, Manju didn’t have much of chance for the spoils but she still managed to secure a bronze in the hammer throw, with an effort of 60.47 metres.Wenxiu erased her own Games record, hurling the iron ball to 77.33 metres in her final attempt. Wenxiu’s compatriot Zheng Wang won silver with a throw of 74.16.

Femi was a cut above in the men’s 100M final, finishing well in front of China’s Su Bingtian (10.10) for the gold. The Qatari erased compatriot Samuel Francis’ continental record of 9.99 seconds and also Koji Ito’s meet mark of 10.00 with a powerful surge.China’s Yongli Wei took the women’s 100M gold, just one hundredth of a second ahead of Japan’s defending champion Chisato Fukushima. 

Results: Men: 100M: Femi Seun Ogunode (Qat) 9.93 (AR, GR) (Old AR: 9.99, Samuel Francis, Qat, 2007; Old GR: 10.00, Koji Ito, Jpn, 1998) 1; Bingtian Su (Chn) 10.10, 2; Kei Takase (Jpn) 10.15, 3. 400M: Yousef Ahmed Masrahi (KSA) 44.46 (GR; Old: 44.93, Ibrahim Ismail, Qat, 1994 and Fawzi Al Shammari, Kuw, 2002) 1; Abbas Abubakar (Brn) 45.62, 2; Arokia Rajiv (Ind) 45.92 (PB) 3. P Kunhu Mohammad (Ind) 46.53, 7. 20km walk: Zhen Wang (Chn) 1:19.45, 1; Yusuke Suzuki (Jpn) 1:20.44, 2; Kim Hyunsub (Kor) 1:21.37, 3. K T Irfan (Ind) 1:23.18, 5.

Women: 100M: Yongli Wei (Chn) 11.48, 1; Chisato Fukushima (Jpn) 11.49, 2; Olga Safronova (Kaz) 11.50, 3. 400M: Mujidat Adekoya (Brn) 51.59, 1; Thi Lan Quach (Vie) 52.06, 2; MR Poovamma (Ind) 52.36, 3. Mandeep Kaur (Ind) 53.38, 6.

20km walk: Lu Xiuzhi (Chn) 1:31.06, 1; Kushbir Kaur (Ind) 1:33.07, 2; Jeon Yeongeum (Kor) 1:33.18 (PB) 3.

Hammer throw: Zhang Wenxiu (Chn) 77.33 metres (GR; Old: 74.15, Zhang Wenxiu, Chn, 2006) 1; Zheng Wang (Chn) 74.16, 2; Manju Bala (Ind) 60.47, 3.

Pole Vault: Changrui Xue (China) 5.55, 1; Daichi Sawano (Japan) 5.55, 2; Minsub Jin (S Korea) 5.45, 3.

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