Super Vikas, Lalita nail gold

Athletics Asian Championships : Discus thrower the first Indian to defend title; Babar edges out champ Li

Super Vikas, Lalita nail gold
Discus thrower Vikas Gowda towered over his rivals once again to retain his Asian Championships gold medal even as Lalita Babar secured an Olympic berth with a gold-winning performance in the 3000M steeplechase here on Saturday.

On the penultimate day of the 21st edition of the championships, Vikas, who had won his first Asian gold at Pune two years ago, defended it with a throw of 62.03 metres. Though not one of his better performances, Vikas had the satisfaction of being the first Indian to defend the discus gold at the continental meet.

“I am disappointed with the distance,” admitted Vikas. “I have been competing a lot and travelling a lot. The body just felt slow and unresponsive. The World Championships is two months away and I still have time to work on and fix the issues,” he added.

Vikas’s was India’s third gold medal of the meet, after Lalita’s medal earlier in the day and Inderjeet Singh’s shot put title on day one. India also had a silver on the day through G Lakshmanan in the men’s 10000M.

Vikas, with a season’s best of 65.75 metres, was the favourite to land the gold, with three-time champion and Asian record holder Ehsan Hadadi of Iran making a slow start to the season. As it turned out, the Indian champion didn’t have anyone to push him, with Hadadi not putting in an appearance.

Kuwaiti Eisa Zankawi won the silver with a 61.57M effort while Iranian Mahmoud Samimi (59.78) settled for the bronze.

Lalita, a trainee of Belarusian Nikolai Snesarev, timed 9:34.13 to edge out Asian Games champion Li Zhenzhu of China for the gold medal. In the process, she went under the Olympic qualifying standard of 9:45.00 and also improved her National record of 9:35.37, set while winning the Asian Games bronze medal last year. Li timed 9:41.43 for her silver.
Lakshmanan, who had won the bronze in the 5000M on the opening day, timed 29:42.81, to win the silver in 10000M, finishing behind Bahrain's Asian Games gold medalist El Hassan El Abbasi, who clocked 28:50.71.

India narrowly missed a medal in 400M hurdles, with Anu Raghavan coming fourth in 57.79 seconds, one-tenth of a second behind China’s Xiao Xia (57.69). Kemi Adekoya of Bahrain won the event in a world leading 54.31 seconds.

India's Davender Singh (71.28M) and Neeraj Chopra (70.50M) ended eighth and ninth in men’s javelin, won by Chinese Taipei's Huang Shih-Feng (79.74M).

Asian Games bronze winner Naveen Kumar finished a poor seventh in men’s 3000M steeple chase, timing 9:12:72, while compatriot Jaiveer Singh was fifth in 8:52:16.

India will be nursing hopes of more medals on the final day, when Tintu Luka and women’s 4x400M relay team will be in action. Tintu qualified for the final, winning her heat in 2:06.33. India’s other entry, M Gomathi, also made it through after clocking 2:11.14.

Sprinter Dharambir Singh qualified for the men's 200M final, equalling his personal best of 20.87 seconds. Srabani Nanda also reached the finals of the women's 200M, timing 23.71 seconds in the heats.

China's Li Ling bettered her own Asian record in women's pole vault, clearing 4.66M.

Results: Men: 10000M: El Hassan El Abbassi (Bahrain) 28:50.71, 1; G Lakshmanan (India) 29:42.81, 2; Andrey Petrov (Uzbekistan) 30:20.68, 3.

400M hurdles: Yuta Konishi (Japan) 49.58 seconds, 1; Chen Chieh (Chinese Taipei) 49.68, 2; Yoshida Kazuaki (Japan) 49.95, 3.

3000M steeplechase: John Koech (Bahrain) 8:27.03, 1; Hashim Salah Mohamed (Qatar) 8:36.02, 2; Chematot Evans (Bahrain) 8:42.76, 3.

Triple jump: Kim Deok-Hyeon (South Korea) 16.86, 1; Cao Shuo (China) 16.77, 2; Roman Valiyev (Kazakhstan) 16.67, 3.

Discus throw: Vikas Gowda (India) 62.03 metres, 1; Eisa Zankawi (Kuwait) 61.57, 2; Mahmoud Samimi (Iran) 59.78, 3. Arjun (India) 55.47, 8.

Javelin: Huang Shih-Feng (Chinese Taipei) 79.74 metres, 1; Bobur Shokirjonov (Uzbekistan) 79.09, 2; Yukifumi Murakami (Japan) 79.05, 3.

Women: 400M hurdles: Kemi Adekoya (Bahrain) 54.31 seconds, 1; Kira Manami (Japan) 57.14, 2; Xiao Xia (China) 57.69, 3.

3000M steeplechase: Lalita Babar (India) 9:34.13, 1; Li Zhenzhu (China) 9:41.43, 2; Zhang Xinyan (China) 9:46.82, 3. Pole vault: Li Ling (China) 4.66 metres, 1; Xu Hiqin (China) 4.30, 2; Abiko Tomomi (Japan) 4.20, 3.

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