Chitra strikes gold with brilliant surge

CHAMP AGAIN: India's P U Chitra celebrates after winning the gold in the 1500 metres at the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha on Wednesday. Reuters

 P U Chitra produced a tremendous surge in the final straight to hand India their third and final gold medal at the 23rd Asian Athletics Championships here on Wednesday.

On the final day of the continental meet, Chitra, the defending champion, never lost hope even as her rivals from Bahrain upped the pace. She kept close to the leaders and sprinted past them in the final hundred metres to notch a terrific win.

It was India’s only title of the day as they finished with three gold, seven silver and seven bronze medals. They were placed fourth on the table behind China, Bahrain and Japan, in contrast to the top spot they occupied at home two years ago with 12 gold, 5 silver and 12 bronze.

The Indian 4x400 relay teams were expected to excel but the women’s quartet finished with silver while the men’s quartet was disqualified after finishing second. The women’s team ended behind Bahrain, with Salwa Naser making up a huge deficit to anchor her team home.

The Indian quartet of Prachi Desai, M R Poovamma, Saritaben Gayekwad and V K Vismaya timed 3:32.21 as against Bahrain’s 3:32.10. The men’s team comprising Kunhumohammed, KS Jeevan, Mohd Anas and Arokia Rajiv clocked 3:03.28 to come behind Japan (3:02.94) but later, they were disqualified for obstruction.

In the women’s 1500M, Chitra timed 4:14.56 for the gold and earned a ticket to the World Championships. Chitra’s non-selection to the Indian team, despite winning a berth as the Asian champion, had triggered a controversy two years ago.

Bahrain’s Gashaw Tigest (4:14.81) and Winfred Mutile Yavi (4:16.18) won silver and bronze respectively.

Another Bahrain star, Salwa Naser, won the women’s 200 metres. Naser, the winner of the gold medals in 400M and 4x400 mixed relay, eased to the gold in 22.74 seconds, finishing ahead of Olga Safranova (22.87) of Kazakhstan. India’s Dutee Chand came up with a superb charge in the final stages to snatch the bronze, edging out Edidiong Odiong of Bahrain. Both were credited with a time of 23.24 seconds.

“I am really very happy. I missed a medal in 100m and relay. I put too much effort in the 100m and was not sure of a medal in 200m. Just did my best and I am happy,” Dutee said.

Ajay Kumar Saroj, who had won the 1500M gold in stunning fashion two years ago in Bhubaneshwar, delivered a superb kick in the final straight but had to be satisfied with silver this time.

Ajay trailed Bahrain’s Abraham Rotich and Qatar’s Musaab Ali coming into the straight.

Even as Rotich pulled away, Ajay gradually narrowed the gap with Ali and both seemed level as they passed the finish.

But the photo verdict came in favour of the Indian though both were given the same time of 3:43.18.

Rotich claimed the gold in 3:42.85.

Among the other Indians in the fray, Navjeet Kaur (57.47m) finished fourth and Kamalpreet Kaur (55.59m) fifth in women’s discus throw. 

In the men’s 10000M, Gavit Murali (13:48.99) was fifth  and Abhishek Pal sixth (13:56.09).

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