Flying Johnson nails 1500M gold

India's Jinson Johnson celebrates after the race. (Reuters Photo)

For Jinson Johnson, this was a moment he just had to seize. Two days ago, he had seen his compatriot Manjit Singh sprint away with the gold in the 800m final but he wasn’t going to miss the second chance. With a steely run in the straight, India’s champion in the 1500 metres answered his nation’s call, marking another golden day for the country in Asian Games athletics.

At the GBK Stadium on Thursday, Johnson collaring the middle-distance field was followed by a dominating win by the women’s 4x400m relay team as India signed off their track and field programme with seven gold, 10 silver and two bronze medals.

The men’s 4x400m relay team claimed the lone silver on the final day while Seema Punia in women’s discus and P U Chitra in the 1500m brought in valuable bronze medals. It was India’s best performance since Bangkok 1978, when the tally was eight gold, seven silver and three bronze. Of course, in the first Asian Games in New Delhi, India had won 10 gold, 12 silver and 12 bronze.

“This is my first gold in a major meet, I am very, very happy,” said Johnson, a huge smile lighting up his face. Johnson had to run a tactically correct race to topple a field featuring strong runners from Qatar, Bahrain and Iran. 

Ali Musaab of Qatar set the early pace while Mohammed Tiouali of Bahrain followed suit. Johnson was content to remain in the shadows till the business end. The last 200 metres then saw the Indian make his move, covering his rivals one by one and taking complete control.

He widened the margin in the straight and held on to time 3:44.72 while Amir Moradi of Iran snatched the silver in 3:45.62. Manjit Singh, the 800 winner, was fourth in 3:46.57.

Hima Das, silver winner in the 400 and 4x400 mixed relay, gave India a comfortable cushion in the 4x400 relay. M R Poovamma increased the advantage, making it easier for Saritaben Gayakwad and V K Vismaya to finish strongly in 3:28.72 — their fifth straight gold in this event. Their task was made easier by the absence of Kemi Adakoya from the Bahrain team, due to an injury suffered in the fall during the mixed relay.

“All were saying it would be silver for us, but we proved them wrong,” said Vismaya, who ran the anchor. 

The men’s team, featuring P Kunhimohammed, A Dharun, Mohammed Anas and Arokia Rajiv timed a fine 3:01.85 for their silver. The formidable Qatar set an Asian record of 3:00.56 for the gold.

In the discus ring, defending champion Seema Punia was also up against a formidable challenge, this time from the Chinese. Her best performance in three years, 62.26, fetched her the bronze. 

In the morning, the disaster in race walk continued for the Indians, with Sandeep Kumar getting disqualified in the 50km walk.

Elsewhere, Olga Rypakova of Kazakhstan claimed her third straight gold in triple jump, with a leap of 14.26M.

China top charts

China topped the athletics tally with 12 gold, 12 silver and 9 bronze medals. Bahrain were second, ahead of India, with 12 gold, six silver and 7 bronze.

Results:  Men: 1500M: Jinson Johnson (India) 3:44.72, 1; Amir Moradi (Iran) 3:45.62, 2; Mohammed Tiouali (Bahrain) 3:45.88, 3.

5000M: Birhanu Balew (Bahrain) 13:43.17, 1; Albert Rop (Bahrain) 13:43.76, 2; Tariq Ahmed Alamri (Saudi Arabia) 13:56.49, 3.

4x100 relay: Japan 38.16 seconds, 1; Indonesia 38.77, 2; China 38.89, 3.

4x400 relay: Qatar 3:00.56 (Asian record), 1; India (P Kunhumohammed, Dharun Ayyasamy, Mohammed Anas, Arokiarajiv) 3:01.85, 2; Japan 3:01.94, 3.

50km walk: Hayato Katsuki (Japan) 4:03:80, 1; Wang Qin (China) 4:06:48, 2; Joo Hyunmyeong (Korea) 4:10:21, 3.

Women: 1500M: Kalkidan Befkadu (Bahrain) 4:07.88, 1; Belay Tigist (Bahrain) 4:09.12, 2; P U Chitra (India) 4:12.56, 3.

Triple jump: Olga Rypakova (Kazakhstan) 14.26 metres, 1; Parinya C (Thailand) 13.93, 2; Vu Thi Men (Vietnam) 13.93, 3.

Discus throw: Chen Yang (China) 65.12 metres, 1; Feng Bin (China) 64.25, 2; Seema Punia (India) 62.26, 3.

4x100m relay: Bahrain 42.73 (Games record) 1; China 42.84, 2; Kazakhstan 43.82, 3.

4x400m relay: India (Hima Das, M R Poovamma, Saritaben Gayakwad, V K Vismaya) 3:28.72, 1; Bahrain 3:30.61, 2; Vietnam 3:33.23, 3.

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Flying Johnson nails 1500M gold

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