Fighter Sudha shines bright

Fighter Sudha shines bright

UP runner bags gold in 3000M steeplechase; Anu wins silver in 400M hurdles

Fighter Sudha shines bright

After a tough phase when she battled doubts and fears over her future on the track, Sudha Singh tasted international success again on Saturday at the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships.

Sudha, the former national champion and record holder in the 3000M steeplechase, was down with swine flu after the Olympic Games last year. It took five months for her to make a return to training and in her first major competition on comeback, the 31-year-old earned the country a shining piece of gold.

After the highs of Friday when gold rained, it was a comparatively quiet day for the hosts. A silver and three bronze were their other medals, taking their tally to seven gold, four silver and nine bronze. Sudha was the favourite to keep the flow of gold going and she didn’t disappoint. A mediocre field didn’t trouble her one bit as the Uttar Pradesh runner strolled home in 9:59.47.

“Those were tough times, I wasn’t even sure whether I would be able to run again,” said Sudha after leaving North Korea’s Hyo Gyong (10:13.94) and Japan’s Nano Sato (10:18.11) way behind in silver and bronze positions. It was her first Asian Championship gold, after three straight silvers in 2009, 2011 and 2013.

“I took complete rest for five months and started training only in January. But even when I came back, I wasn’t sure I could do well. With the support of my coaches, I slowly made my way back,” said Sudha, who has a personal best of 9:26.55.

The weak field meant the Indian didn’t have to dig deep. In fact, it was a start-to-finish affair for her. “The other countries had fielded their second string but for me, it was about winning and earning a World Championship qualification. All my focus from now will be on doing well in London,” said Sudha.
There were no London aspirants from India in the women’s 400M hurdles but Anu Raghavan’s silver was a welcome one and a rare one. Anu timed a career-best 57.22 to win India’s first medal in this event since P T Usha’s gold in 1989.

M P Jabir’s personal best of 50.22 won him the bronze in the men’s 400M hurdles while Sheena N V (13.42) in triple jump and the women’s 4x100M relay team also claimed bronze medals.

In the field, there was an exciting tussle in men’s high jump while in hammer throw, Tajikistan’s Olympic champion Dilshod Nazarov towered above the opposition for his fourth Asian gold with a 76.69M heave.

China’s Zhang Guowei, the favourite in high jump, was humbled by Woo Sang-Hyeok of South Korea, who equalled his personal best of 2.30. Zhang, the showman nick-named the Lord of the Dance, had to settle for the silver after clearing 2.28. India’s B Chethan equalled his career-best, clearing 2.20 for the fifth spot.

Results: Men: 110M hurdles: Abdulaziz Al-Mandeel (Kuwait) 13.50 seconds, 1; Yaqoub Al-Yoha (Kuwait) 13.59, 2; Ahmed Khader (Saudi Arabia) 13.61, 3. Siddanth Thingalaya (India) 13.72, 5.
400M hurdles: Eric Cray (Philippines) 49.57 seconds, 1; Chen Chieh (Chinese Taipei) 49.75, 2; M P Jabir (India) 50.22, 3.

3000M steeplechase: Hossein Keyhani (Iran) 8:43.82, 1; Yaser Salem (Qatar) 8:46.16, 2; Ali Ahmed Al-Amri (Saudi Arabia) 8:52.64, 3. Naveen Kumar (India) 9:02.95, 7.

High jump: Woo Sang-Hyeok (South Korea) 2.30 metres, 1; Zhang Guowei (China) 2.28, 2; Majed El Dein Ghazal (Syria) 2.24, 3. Chethan B (India) 2.20, 5.

Hammer throw: Dilshod Nazarov (Tajikistan) 76.69 metres, 1; Wang Shizhu (China) 73.81, 2; Lee Ywun-Chul (South Korea) 73.77, 3.

4x100M relay: China 39.38 seconds, 1; Thailand 39.38, 2; Hong Kong 39.53, 3.

Women: 100M hurdles: Jung Hye-Lim (South Korea) 13.16 seconds, 1; Ayako Kimura (Japan) 13.30, 2; Wang Dou (China) 13.36, 3.

400M hurdles: Nguyen Thi Huyen (Vietnam) 56.14 seconds, 1; Anu Raghavan (India) 57.22, 2; Sayaka Aoki (Japan) 58.18, 3. Jauna Murmu 59.11, 6. M Arpitha 59.78, 7.

3000M steeplechase: Sudha Singh (India) 9:59.47, 1; Hyo Gyong (North Korea) 10:13.94, 2; Nana Sato (Japan) 10:18.11, 3.

Triple jump: Mariya Ovchinnikova (Kazakhstan) 13.72 metres, 1; Irina Ektova (Kazakhstan) 13.62, 2; Sheena N V (India) 13.42, 3. Joyline Lobo 12.71, 7.

4x100M relay: Kazakhstan 43.53 seconds, 1; China 44.50, 2; India (Merlin Joseph, Himashree Roy, Srabani Nanda, Dutee Chand) 44.57, 3.

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