Jinson, women relay team win gold as Indian athletics contingent produces best show after 1951
By Amanpreet Singh
(Eds: Updating with more details and quotes)
Jakarta, Aug 30 (PTI) The Indian athletics contingent ended its Asian Games campaign with a best ever show since 1951 with Jinson Johnson and the women's 4x400 relay team providing a golden touch on the last day of competitions here today.
The two gold, a silver from 4x400m men's relay team and a bronze each from discus thrower Seema Punia and 1500m runner P U Chitra today took India's medal tally from athletics to 19 (7 gold, 10 silver, two bronze).
The gold count was the same as in 1978 and 2002 Asian Games but India had won a total of 17 medals in these two earlier editions as against 19 this time.
In the inaugural edition in 1951 held in New Delhi, India had won a total of 31 medals from athletics, including 10 gold. In 1982, India had won 20 medals in athletics but there were only four gold, the rest being eight silver and eight bronze.
India finished third in athletics behind China (12, 12, 9) and Bahrain (12, 6, 7).
India won five medals on the final day with Jinson winning the gold in the men's 1500m to make amends for the silver in the 800m before the women's team narrowly missed the Games record in their comfortable victory in 4x400m relay.
Kerala athlete Jinson Johnson won the country's first 1500m gold in 20 years while the women's 4x400m relay team maintained its Asian Games domination by winning its fifth consecutive gold.
Jinson was pipped by compatriot Manjit Singh for gold in the 800m race but today he did not give any chance to his rivals to win the race in 3 minute 44.72 seconds. He crossed the finishing line after creating a huge opening in the last 80m stretch, leaving behind Amir Moradi (3:45.62) and Mohammed Tiouali (3:45.88).
Manjit Singh, who emerged a surprise winner in the 800m run, finished fourth with a timing of 3:46.57.
Bahadur Prasad was last Indian to win a medal in men's 1500m at the 1998 Games, where he won a bronze.
"Yes, it was a sweet revenge for me because these Games come after four years. My weak point is finishing but today I kept energy for the last 80m run," Johnson said.
Young sprinter Hima Das won her second Asian Games medal, and this time a gold, as the Indian women's quartet of Hima, M R Poovamma, Sarita Gayakwad and V K Bismaya faced no competition as they easily took the gold.
It was the fifth gold medal on the trot for India in 4x400m women's relay, continuing with their domination since the 2002 Asian Games.
The individual 400m silver winner Hima, who began first, provided a handsome lead to Poovamma, who maintained it and passed on the baton to Sarita. The Gujarati girl too remained strong in her lap and Vismaya comfortably finished the race.
However, the Indian team missed out on the Games record of 3:28.68 as they clocked 3:28.72.
"The strategy was to let two experienced runners begin it. We just wanted to beat Bahrain. That was the goal today," said Poovamma.
Meanwhile, discus thrower Seema Punia and middle-distance runner P U Chitra had to be content with bronze medals.
Seema could not defend the gold she won in 2014 as China's Asian champion Chen Yang hurled the disc to gold winning distance of 65.12 in her last attempt, which was a huge 2.86m more than the Indian.
Diminutive Chitra, who won gold in the Asian Championship last year in Bhubaneswar, clocked 4:12.56 to win a bronze, her first Asiad medal.
The men's 4X400 relay team though had to be content with a silver behind a dominating Qatar.
Kunhu Muhammed ran the first lap, followed by Dharun Ayyasamy but by the time the baton reached Anas, Qatar was pulling away. The Indian team was placed fourth at that time but Anas pulled off a great run to pass two runners and Arokia Rajiv managed to maintain the second position
The Indian quartet finished the race in 3:01.85 while Qatar took gold with 3:00.56, which is an Asian record.
There was disappointment for Govindan Lakshman also in the men's 5000m as he finished sixth with a timing of 14:17.09. Lakshmanan had finished third bronze in the 10,000m but was disqualified later.
In the morning, Sandeep Kumar was disqualified from men's 50km race walk event for 'loss of contact'