With the first two days of the ongoing 23rd Asian Athletics Championship being particularly rewarding for India, the penultimate day of the event was somewhat a slow one for the Indian squad in Doha, Qatar. The first two days saw a medal haul of 10, which included 2 Gold, 3 Silver and 5 Bronze medals jointly, ensuring India was on the correct track in the Championships in whose previous 2017 edition they had bagged 29 medals, including 12 gold ones!
There has been quite some drama on the tracks with athletes like Tamil Nadu's Gomathi Marimuthu and Annu Rani, Shivpal Singh particularly stealing the thunder with their unexpected yet brilliant gold and silver medal wins respectively. The third day of the event began with the 3000 meter Steeplechase which had bronze medalist Parul Chaudhary competing for a second medal in the tournament. However, Parul managed to finish fifth on the list and missed out on a medal but ensured clocking her personal best of 10:03:43 seconds.
The sore disappointment arrived yet again on Day 3 from lauded athlete Jinson Johnson. The army-man and long distance runner had slipped off the tracks while competing in the 800 meter on the second day citing unknown injuries. Whilst being scheduled to compete in the 1500 meter on Day 3, RK Nair, the deputy Chief Coach of India announced that Jinson will not be participating due to a calf injury and will sit out the race. However, the first medal of the day sprinted right through then when Swapna Barman emerged victorious in the heptathlon event and came second by clocking her season's best timing of 2:20:56. With the silver medal win, Barman is now placed on the second spot of the heptathlon table with 5993 points to her credit. Purnima Hembram finished fifth on the same table.
On the other hand, Dutee Chand who has been smashing down her own records and creating them in the next instant, was ready to take part in the 200 meter heats. Dutee lived up to the expectations and booked a spot for herself in the semi finals of the race by clocking her season's best time of 23:33 seconds. In the 1500 meter heats, Ajay Kumar sailed into the finals in 3:49:20 seconds. In the 4x100 meter women's relay, India finished fourth on the list and narrowly missed out on a win due to Dutee Chand and K. Rangba's slighlty slow pace which robbed them of another medal.
The second medal of the day that streamed in was another silver and it came from the Indian mixed relay team consiting of Muhammed Anas, MR Poovamma, VK Vismaya and Arokia Rajiv who clocked their win in 3:16:47 seconds. The final event of the day saw all eyes and hopes pinned on Sanjivani Baburao Yadav who was to compete in the 10,000 meter race. Yadav took us by surprirse with the grit she showcased, as she ran gloriously to clinch a bronze medal in her personal best of 32:44:96 and add it to India's expanding tally.
The glaring diappointment of the tournament so far has been from Jinson Johnson, mostly because the 1500 meter gold medalist from Asian Games 2018 was an assured podium finisher and could not take part in the events. Consequently, Johnson, victmised by a muscle pull, has been ruled out for participation even in the World Championships scheduled to happen in the Khalifa Stadium in September-October.
With 13 medals collected so far, India is looking at the fourth and final day with a lot of expectations to bring in a few more. So far, India is lagging behind on the medal table and needs to cover up a lot on Day 4, maybe by winning a few more gold medals and adding the Midas touch to their tally. Let's hope that the fourth day turns out to be equally rewarding for the hopeful Indian squad out in the capital city of Qatar.