Brilliant Tajinder nails gold with Games record

Brilliant Tajinder nails gold with Games record

India's Tajinderpal Singh Toor en route to his men's shot put gold at the Asian Games in Jakarta on Saturday, AP/ PTI

Arms spread wide, the tricolour draped around his shoulders, Tajinderpal Singh Toor just couldn’t stop smiling. And why not? With an effort that was the best in the continent in the last six years, the burly Indian had just won the shot put gold medal at the 18th Asian Games.

On the opening night of the athletics programme, Tajinder got India off the mark in stunning fashion. His series was staggering, and so was his winning effort: 20.75 metres. Om Prakash Singh’s national record of 20.69, set at Szombathely (Hungary) in 2012 was history in a jiffy at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.

Tajinder threw down the gauntlet with his very first putt of 19.92 metres and no one even came close to challenging him as he won India’s first gold in this event since Bahadur Singh Sagoo’s title in 2002. To underline his form, the 23-year-old uncorked a terrific sequence of 19.15, foul, 19.96 again, 20.75 and 20.00 to embellish India’s seventh gold medal at these Games.

China’s Liu Hang was his closest rival and his best was 19.52 while Ivan Ivanov of Kazakhstan claimed bronze at 19.40. The athlete expected to challenge Tajinder, Shahin Mehrdelan of Iran, fouled all his first three efforts to bow out early. So did Sultan Abdulmajeed Alhebshi, the former Asian champion and record holder. The Saudi Arabian held the Games record of 20.57, which was reduced to dust by Tajinder.

“My aim was to throw 21 metres but I was in lead from the first round itself and was never in doubt about my win. The last three years, I have had the best throws in Asia and I had faith in my preparations,” said Tajinder, whose father is suffering from cancer.

“Even during the time he is hospitalised, he backs me, urges me to focus on sports. So this gold is very important for me, my family has sacrificed so much,” said the man from Punjab’s Moga district.

Elsewhere, India had more reasons to smile with Hima Das smashing the national record in the women’s 400 metres en route to the final. Favourite Salwa El Naser of Bahrain set a solid pace in the straight for a Games record of 50.86 seconds and Hima, following her, timed 51.00 to erase Manjeet Kaur’s record of 51.05.  Nirmala Sheoran also entered the final, winning her heat in 54.09 seconds.

Sarita Singh came fifth in hammer throw with a 62.03m effort, short of her season’s best of 63.80 while the distance runners disappointed. Suriya Loganathan came sixth in 32:42.08 and Sanjivani Jadhav ninth in 33:13.06, both outside their personal bests.

In qualification rounds, Mohammed Anas and Arokia Rajiv eased into the final of the men’s 400m. Anas timed 45.63 in the first round and 45.30 in the semifinals. Arokia clocked 46.08 in the semifinal after a 46.82 in the first round. High jumper B Chetan sailed into the medal rounds, clearing 2.15m in qualification.

Dutee Chand progressed to the semifinal of the women’s 100m, winning her first round in 11.38 seconds, while at the long jump pit, M Sreeshankar entered the final with a 7.83m leap in the qualifying round.

Results: Men: Shot put: Tajinderpal Singh Toor (India) 20.75m (National record. Old: 20.69, O P Singh, Szombathely, 2012), 1; Liu Hang (China) 19.52, 2; Ivan Ivanov (Kazakhstan) 19.40, 3.

Marathon: Hiroto Inoue (Japan) 2:18:22, 1; Elhassan Elabbassi (Bahrain) 2:18:22, 2; Bujie Duo (China) 2:18:48, 3.

Women: 10000M: Daria Maslova (Kyrgyzstan) 32:07.23, 1; Eunice Chumba (Bahrain) 32:11.12, 2; Zhang Deshun (China) 32:12.78, 3.

Hammer throw: Luo Na (China) 71.42 metres, 1; Wang Zheng (China) 70.86, 2; Hitomi Katsuyama (Japan) 62.95, 3.

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