India start with two gold


In extremely humid conditions at the Kalinga Stadium, Manpreet blunted the Chinese threat with her second-best performance ever for the gold. That delight was apparent as she did a victory lap with the national flag, after tossing the iron ball to 18.28 metres.

A couple of hours later, Lakshmanan produced a superb kick in the final lap of the 5000M, timing 14:54.48 for his maiden Asian gold. In between, the hosts also picked up a silver and three bronze medals while triggering hopes of a better haul in the next two days.

V Neena in long jump was the silver winner while her team-mate Nayana James, discus thrower Vikas Gowda, 5000M runner Sanjivani Jadhav and javelin thrower Annu Rani delivered bronze medals.

Manpreet, who turned 27 on the day, wasn’t a sure-shot gold medal hope, with China’s defending champion Guo Tianqian in fray. The Indian had a personal best of 18.86 at the Asian Grand Prix this year but she was under pressure to deliver in a big competition.

Even as the Chinese struggled, Manpreet laid down the marker with a 17.52M in the first round. Tianqian responded with a 17.76 to go front in the third round but the Indian, who fouled her second attempt, produced the biggest putt of the evening to silence her rival before fouling her next three attempts. Tianqian’s best of the night came in the fourth round – a 17.91 that was only good enough for the silver.

Vikas, going for a hat-trick of discus gold medals, was halted by the Iranian giant Ehsan Hadadi. The London Olympics silver-medallist – a four-time Asian champion -- unleashed a series of 60-metre-plus throws, any one of which would have won him the gold. His best was a 64.54 in the last round, after starting out with a 61.67.

Vikas, who celebrated his 34th birthday on Wednesday, had a best of 60.81 in the fourth round to be placed second but Malaysian Muhammad Irfan edged ahead with a 60.96 to push the Indian to third spot.

Lakshmanan and team-mate Murli Kumar Gavit stayed with the pack for most part of the race before bolting away at the bell. The Tamil Nadu man, the bronze medallist two years ago, then upped the pace further with 300 metres left to outclass the field and earn a qualification for the World Championships.

In women’s long jump, Neena and Vietnam’s Bui Thi Thu tied for the first place at 6.54 but the Vietnamese’s next best jump of 6.44 proved the clincher.The first heat of the 400M semifinal, won by Indian Mohd Anas, is likely to be re-run after a confusion over the start. Immediately after the starter’s gun fired, there was another sound and many runners slowed down. India though looked good for the gold, with Arokia Rajiv and Amoj Jacob in final and Anas looking in top form.

Results: Men: 5000M: G Lakshmanan (India) 14:54.48, 1; Yaser Salem (Qatar) 14:55.89, 2; Tariq Ahmed (Saudi Arabia) 14:56.83, 3. Pole vault: Ding Bangchao (China) 5.65 metres, 1; Masaki Ejima (Japan) 5.65, 2; Ernest John Obiena (Philippines) 5.50, 3. Discus throw: Ehsan Hadadi (Iran) 64.54 metres, 1; Muhammad Irfan (Malaysia) 60.96, 2; Vikas Gowda (India) 60.81, 3.

Women: 5000M: Daria Maslova (Kyrgyzstan) 15:57.95, 1; Alia Mohammed (UAE) 15:59.95, 2; Sanjivani Jadhav (India) 16:00.24, 3. Long jump: Bui Thi Thu (Vietnam) 6.54 metres, 1; Neena V (India) 6.54, 2; Nayana James (India) 6.42, 3. Shot put: Manpreet Kaur (India) 18.28 metres, 1; Guo Tianqian (China) 17.91, 2; Aya Ota (Japan) 15.45, 3. Javelin throw: Li Lingwei (China) 63.06M (NMR. Old: 61.33, Li Shiying, 2015), 1; Dilhani Lekamge (Sri Lanka) 58.11, 2; Annu Rani (India) 57.32, 3.

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