Asian Games gold medallist Sudha Singh failed to live up to the expectations as India settled for two silver and two bronze medals on a rather disappointing day on Day 3 of the 20th Asian Athletics Championships in Pune on Friday.
Having broken her own national record last month with an Asian leading time, Sudha was tipped to bag the women's 3000m steeplechase gold but failed to live up to expectations.
She was beaten by a long distance by Ruth Chebet of Bahrain, who ran a brilliant race to notch up her personal best of 9:40.84s, in the last event of the day.
Sudha, who has already qualified for next month's World Championships, could only clock 9:56.27, well below her personal best of 9:45.60 as the sizable crowd at the Shiv Chhatrapati Stadium at Balewadi were stunned into silence.
Sudha was left behind by a big distance by Chebet from around one kilometer mark and the Indian could not recover her lost ground.
"I felt a sort of tightness after the 1km mark and after that I had to maintain for silver spot. Our event was delayed because the preceding events took more time. We were kept waiting at the track for a long time and that could be the reason for my tightness," Sudha said later.
"The Bahrain runner was too good at the end. I am disappointed that I could not get a gold but silver is also good enough," she added.
Prem Kumar Kumaravel gave India the second silver in long jump while J Hemashree and Samarjeet Singh Malhi bagged a bronze each in women's 100m hurdles and men's javelin throw respectively.
After Friday’s four medals, India's tally swelled to nine with one gold, three silver and five bronze. The hosts have now slipped to sixth spot in the standings.
China are leading the table with eight gold, three silver and two bronze, followed by Bahrain (4 gold, 4 silver, 3 bronze) and Saudi Arabia (3 gold) at second and third respectively. Japan (2 gold, 2 silver, 6 bronze) and Uzbekistan (2 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze) were fourth and fifth respectively.
Prem Kumar, one of the promising athletes who had done exceedingly well in last month's National Inter-State Championships, came up with a creditable 7.92m in the men's long jump.
The 20-year-old gave India its first medal in 13 years after Sanjay Kumar Rai won a silver in 2000 Jakarta Asian Championships with an effort of 8.03m.
In a tight three-way contest, Prem Kumar was placed third after the penultimate round behind Wang Jianan of China, who eventually won the gold with a jump of 7.95m and bronze winner another Chinese Tang Gongchen.
The Indian leapt to 7.92m in his sixth and final jump to bag the silver and push Gongchen, who had 7.89m, to bronze. This was Prem Kumar's first international medal at the senior level.
"I am happy to have won a silver for my country but I was hoping that I could cross 8m mark and then try for the World Championhsips 'B' standard of 8.10m," Prem Kumar said later.
His coach Shyam Kumar said Prem Kumar's take off was a problem.
"He had problems with his take off. He did not get proper take off in all his jumps," Shyam Kumar said.
In javeline throw, Samarjit Singh gave India a surprise bronze with a best throw of 75.03m which he came up in his second attempt. All his other five attempts were foul throws.
Ivan Zaysev of Uzbekistan won the gold with a throw of 79.76m while Sachith Madhuranga of Sri Lanka was second with 79.62m.
Rajinder Singh, who was said to be touching near 80m in the practice, finished a disppointing seventh with 71.82m while the third Indian in the fray, Krishan Kumar Patel was fourth with an effort of 73.36m.
The 25-year-old Samarjit, whose only other senior level medal was a bronze in the 2010 Asian All Star Meet, said he was happy to have won a medal at a top level competition but rued that he had just one legitimate throw.
"I have no words to express my happiness to win a bronze for the country. I had a feeling that I would win a medal today," he said later.
"Some of my throws had sailed over 76m but turned out to be foul throws. No doubt I could have done better. My aim is now to do better in next year's Commonwealth and Asian Games," he said.
Another surprise medal came from Jayapal Hemashree who won her first medal in her first international event, clocking 14.01s, behind Kimura Ayako (13.25s) of Japan and Anastassiya Soprunov (13.44s) of Kazakhstan.
"I am happy that I have won a medal in my first international event. I was nervous before the race but in the end I could do the country proud," said 22-year-old Hemashree.
Another Indian Govindaraj Gayathry was fourth with a timing of 14.07s.
In the men's 110m hurdles, India's Siddhanth Thingalaya missed the bronze by one-hundreth of a second to Wataru Yazawa of Japan. Thingalaya clocked 13.89s to Yazawa's 13.88s.
The gold went to Jiang Fan of China who clocked 13.61s while Abdul Aziz Al-Mandeel of Kuwait bagged the silver in 13.91s.
West Asians dominated the 15000m race with Saudi Arabia's Emad Hamed Nour clinching the men's gold in 3:39.52s. The second and third places went to Mohammad Algarni (3:40.75s) of Qatar and Bilal Mansour Ali (3:40.96s) of Bahrain.
United Arab Emirates' Betlhem Belayneh took the women's 1500m crown in 4:13.67s. India's Sini A Markose and O P Jaisha were fourth and fifth respectively.