Preeja gives India positive start in athletics
Top Indian long-distance runner Preeja Sreedharan clocked a personal best of 31:50:47 in the women's 10,000m final to clinch the country's fourth gold medal at the Asian Games in Guangzhou on Sunday.
Kavita Raut, who won the bronze in the women's 10000m at the Commonwealth Games last month, walked away with the silver with a personal best timing of 31:51.44
Preeja clocked 31 minutes, 50.47 seconds, a good two minutes below the Asian and world record of China's Wang Junxia but better than her 32:04s set two years ago at the London Olympic Games qualifying meet.
"I feel very proud to have won the gold medal after missing out on a medal in the Commonwealth Games. I was very disappointed with the Commonwealth Games performance and was determined to do well in the Asian Games," said the short-statured Preeja. "I am also happy for Kavita for getting the silver medal, she said but could not describe how she overtook the rest of the field at the end. "I don't know. I just ran, that's all," she said.
Image: India's Preeja Sreedharan (left) celebrates winning the women's 10,000m final with compatriot and silver medallist Kavita Raut on Sunday
'I never expected to win gold'
To bring more cheers to the Indian camp was the thrilling victory of Sudha Singh in the day's final event -- the 3000m women's steeplechase -- which had only six runners in it. She also set a new national record in her effort.
The two Indians in fray -- eventual gold medallist Sudha and O P Jaisha, who ended up fifth -- were abreast of the others in the bunch with Sudha setting the pace after 2000m. Twenty-four-year-old Sudha made the decisive kick on the back stretch of the final lap and was in fact leading her nearest rival, eventual silver medal winner Jin Yuan of China, comfortably after the last water jump by ten metres before the host nation's athlete accelerated to close the gap.
Sudha, who was flagging towards the end, saw the Chinese athlete closing down the gap and made one determined effort in the final few metres to put her leg just in front of the Yuan for the gold with a personal best timing of 9 minutes and 55.67 seconds. Yuan secured the silver clocking 9:55.71 while the bronze went to Japan's Minori Hayakari (10.01.25).
"I never expected to win the gold medal. The Chinese girl gave me a tough fight in the end and I am happy to win the medal," Sudha said later at the press conference. "I am happy to have improved my time clocked at the Commonwealth Games where I timed 9:57.63 and set a new national record," she said.
Image: India's Sudha Singh (left) runs to claim the women's 300m steeplechase gold on Sunday
Sandeep helps India edge Japan in hockey
Sandeep Singh fired in two penalty corner goals as India defeated Japan 3-2 to notch up their fourth consecutive win and finish at the top of Group B in the hockey competitions of the Asian Games in Guangzhou on Sunday.
Sandeep converted two short corners in the 38th and 62nd minute to see his team finish the group stages on an impressive note.
The other goal-getter for India, was captain Rajpal Singh, who scored in the 31st minute.
For Japan, Hiroki Sakamoto (21st and 63rd minute) scored both their goals from field efforts, once in each half.
With four wins out of as many matches, India finished on top of Group B with 12 points, while arch-rivals Pakistan finished second with nine points.
India will now take on Group A runners-up Malaysia, who beat China 4-2 in another league tie, in the semi-final on November 23 while Pakistan will be up against defending champions South Korea, who hammered Singapore 12-1, in the other last four tie.
Image: Mohamed Ishak Ismail of Singapore (right) challenges Lee Nam-yong of South Korea during their hockey match on Sunday