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Rediff.com  » Sports » Asian Athletics: Lakshmanan, Manpreet win gold medals on Day 1

Asian Athletics: Lakshmanan, Manpreet win gold medals on Day 1

July 07, 2017 00:21 IST

G Lakshmanan

IMAGE: G Lakshmanan celebrates winning the gold in the men's 5000m. Photograph: PTI

Shot putter Manpreet Kaur and long distance runner G Lakshmanan grabbed gold medals on a remarkable opening day for India at the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships as the hosts won seven medals to sit atop the medal tally, in Bhubaneswar, on Thursday.

V Neena and Nayan James bagged a silver and bronze in the women's long jump while Vikas Gowda, Sanjivini Yadav, Annu Rani added a bronze each in the men's discus throw, women's 5000m race and javelin throw respectively.

Heavyweights China ended the day in second position with one gold and two silver medals.

Birthday girl Manpreet opened India's gold medal account with a career second best throw of 18.28m. She upstaged defending champion Chinese Guo Tianqian to give herself a perfect birthday gift at the packed Kalinga Stadium.

Tianqian took the silver with a best throw of 17.91m, while Aya Ota of Japan got the bronze with 15.45m.

She was expected to win the gold as she was in good form this season -- 18.86m at Asian Grand Prix in Jianhua (China)) in April -- among the eight competitors in the absence of world number four Gong Lijiao of China (19.56m).

The Asian Championships winner gets automatic berth for the World Championships to be held in London next month but Manpreet, who hails from a village near Patiala in Punjab, has already qualified for the global flagship event with her own national record-improving effort of 18.86 in China.

Manpreet Kaur

IMAGE: Manpreet Kaur poses with her gold medal. Photograph: PTI

The 27-year-old Lakhsmanan then gave India the second gold with an unexpected victory in the men's 5000m race. Lakshmanan, who won a bronze in the previous edition in Wuhan in 2013, improved on that by running away with the gold in 14 minutes 54.48 seconds.

Yaser Salem of Qatar was second in 14:55.89 while Tariq Ahmed of of Saudi Arabia took the bronze in 14:56.83.

India added one silver and one bronze in the women's long jump through V Neena and Nayan James by clearing distances of 6.54m and 6.42m respectively. Vietnam's Bui Thi Thu won the gold with a best jump 6.54m, the same as that of Neena, but adjudged the winner as her second best effort of 6.44m was better than that of the Indian's 6.32m.

In the women's 5000m, Sanjivini Yadav added to India's medal tally with a bronze by clocking 16 minute and 00.24 seconds, behind Kyrgyzstan's Daria Maslova (15:57.95) and UAE's Alia Mohammed (15:59.95).

However, in the men's discus throw, Gowda failed to defend his title but grabbed a bronze with a best effort of 60.81m. Gowda's long-time nemesis at the Asian circuit, Ehsan Haddadi of Iran took the gold with a best throw of 4.54m, while Malaysia's Muhammad Irfan took the silver with 60.96m.

Vikas Gowda

IMAGE: Vikas Gowda in action. Photograph: PTI

Annu Rani ended the day for the hosts by adding a bronze with an effort of 57.32m.

Manpreet, who returned to the circuit last year after taking some time off due to the birth of a child, said she is happy to have crossed the 18m mark.

"This is my second best throw of my career and I am very happy for this performance. Before the event, I told myself that I should go beyond the 18m mark and anything extra beyond that would be satisfied," she said after having a lap of honour of the Kalinga Stadium.

In the 100m dash, India's Dutee Chand and Amiya Kumar Mallick qualified for the semi-finals in the women's and men's events. Dutee was the best qualifier as she won the third heat with a fast time of 11.40 secs while Mallick was third in men's 100m sprint with a timing of 10.48 secs.

Khairul Hafiz of Malaysia was the best qualifier in the men's 100m while Asia's only sub-10 runner Femi Ogunode of Qatar was second best in 10.29 secs.

Just before these championships, Dutee received a sort of setback with the IAAF deciding to reopen her case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport to provide more evidence in the appeal filed by her, challenging the Hyperandrogenism Policy of the world body of athletics.

The CAS later allowed her to compete, pending a final decision.

"I was not affected by these developments, I have no pressure at all. My job is to run and try to win this event and also qualify for the World Championships. My coach told me to focus on my running. My legal team (in Canada) are looking into the matter and whatever needs to be done further will be done by them," she said after the race.

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