Arpinder, Swapna light up the day

Swapna Barman celebrates after winning Asian Games Gold in the Women's Heptathlon. REUTERS Photo

This was a day to rewrite history books. This was also the day to forget pain and revel in the realm of gold, for Arpinder Singh and Swapna Barman.

It was 48 years ago that India last won a gold medal in men’s triple jump at the Asian Games, through Mohinder Singh Gill. And in heptathlon, the country had never won the top position in the quadrennial event. It didn’t take long for all that to change on Wednesday at the GBK Stadium.

On a humid night, Arpinder struck gold first, with a 16.77-metre effort in triple jump. A little later, Swapna, the lady with six toes on both her feet, joined the Indian gold rush with a career-best in heptathlon, amassing 6026 points. And then there was Dutee Chand, her indomitable spirit earning her a second silver, in the women’s 200 metres. The three medals raised India’s total in athletics to five gold and nine silver, forming a major chunk of the country’s tally at these Games.

Arpinder, with a season’s best of 17.09 metres, was a tad fortunate as China chose not to field the continent’s top jumper, Dong Bin. Still, he had to perform at a certain standard, and his best show came in the third round after starting with a foul and a 16.58 in the second. 

Ruslan Kurbanov of Uzbekistan produced a personal best of 16.62 for the silver and China’s Cao Shuo, who has a best of 17.35, underperformed managing only 16.56 for the bronze. Arpinder himself struggled in the conditions, reaching 16.08 in the fourth and fouling his next two.

“I was feeling very dehydrated after the third round. I drank lots of water but I was sweating lots. It was difficult out there,” said the 25-year-old ONGC man. “My target was to go over 17 metres.”

Swapna, troubled by a bad toothache over the last few days, raised the bar when the situation demanded it. Going into the 800 metres, the last event of heptathlon, she led China’s Wang Qingling by just 63 points. Running hard, she finished just ahead of the Chinese and slumped to the track, celebrating, having cracked the 6000-point barrier for the first time. India’s other entrant, Purnima Hembram, tallied 5837 for the fourth spot.

Dutee couldn’t match her semifinal performance but still had enough strength to time 23.20 seconds for the 200M silver, charging in behind Edidiong Odiong of Bahrain (22.96).

As the Indians were busy celebrating these successes, Iran’s Ehsan Hadadi quietly won his fourth discus throw gold in a row, with an effort of 65.71 metres.

In the morning, Indians had a miserable day in the walks. K T Irfan and Manish Singh Rawat were both disqualified in the men’s 20km walk while in the women’s event Khushbir Kaur was fourth in 1:35:24. Soumya Baby, the other Indian entrant, was also disqualified. By the time night came along, that bitterness had vanished into the thin air.

Results: Men: 200M: Yuki Koike (Japan) 20.23 seconds, 1; Yang Chunhan (Chinese Taipei) 20.23, 2; Yaqoob Yaqoob (Bahrain) 20.55, 3.

Pole vault: Seito Yamamoto (Japan) 5.70 (Games record) 1; Jie Yao (China) 5.50, 2; Amsam Ang Patsapong (Thailand) 5.50, 3.

Triple jump: Arpinder Singh (India) 16.77 metres, 1; Ruslan Kurbanov (Uzbekistan) 16.62, 2; Cao Shuo (China) 16.56, 3.

Discus throw: Ehsan Hadadi (Iran) 65.71, 1; Mustafa Al Samah (Iraq) 60.09, 2; Eissa Zankawi (Kuwait) 59.44, 3. 

20km walk: Wang Kaihua (China) 1:22.04, 1; Toshikazu Yamanishi (Japan) 1:22:10, 2; Jin Xiangqian (China) 1:25:41, 3.

Women: 200M: Edidiong Odiong (Bahrain) 22.96 seconds, 1; Dutee Chand (India) 23.20, 2; Wei Yongli (China) 23.27, 3.

High jump: Svetlana Radzivil (Uzbekistan) 1.96 metres, 1; Nadiya Dusanova (Uzbekistan) 1.94, 2; Nadezhda Dubovitskaya (Kazakshtan) 1.84, 3.

Heptathlon: Swapna Barman (India) 6026 points, 1; Wang Qingling (China) 5954, 2; Yuki Yamasaki (Japan) 5873, 3.

20km walk: Yang Jiayu (China) 1:29:15, 1; Shijie Qieyang (China) 1:29:15, 2; Kumiko Okada (Japan) 1:34:02, 3.

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Arpinder, Swapna light up the day

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