Dhaka: After a slow start, India put their
athletics campaign back on track, clinching three gold, an
equal number of silver and a couple of bronze medals in the
11th South Asian Games here today.
After a calm start with Sri Lanka bagging top honours in
1500m men`s and 200m women`s events, Abdul Najeeb Qureshi
reigned supreme in men`s 200m as Indian athletes staged a
On the opening day of athletics, Sri Lanka clinched two
gold, three silver and one bronze while Pakistan had a share
In the first event (1500m) of the day, Lankan long
distance runner Chaminda Wijekoon (4:10.01) pipped Sunil Kumar
(4:10.57) for the gold as India settled for a silver to begin
Lankans also clinched the bronze through P H Chamal
In the absence of India`s top 1500m runner Hamza
Chatholi, India had fielded Sunil and Naresh Yadav who could
not make a mark.
India had more disappointment in store and had to wait
longer for the gold as Lankan Chandrika Subakshini took the
women`s 200m top place with a timing of 24.49s.
The Lankans had a top two finish with Pramila
Priyadarshini (24.63) finishing second.
India had to settle for the bronze through Jauna Murmu
who clocked 24.87. India`s top 200m runner Sowjanya, who had clinched the
top honours with a timing of 24.33 in the National
Championship in Chennai, finished way behind.
But Qureshi brought the smiles back in the Indian camp
when the Hyderabadi sprinter recorded his personal best of
21.16 in 200m for the first gold for the country in athletics.
Lankan Shehan Saearuwan Abeypitiyage (21.19) and Liaqat
Ali of Pakistan (21.27) took the silver and bronze medals
Thereafter, India had a roll with Balamurugan
Thiyagarajan clinching the 400m hurdles clocking 52.24. India
also earned the bronze in the same event through Avina Thomas
Balamurugun thus improved on his Senior National timing
of 52.83 where he had finished a poor fourth.
Haq Nawaz of Pakistan (52.52) took the silver.
In long jump, India fielded a second string side with
national champion Maha Singh not participating.
In his absence, Mohammad Ibrar, who had finished second
in the Nationals, took the track to earn India the third gold.
Ibrar, who had a 7.60m jump in Nationals, took a leap of
7.44m but it was enough to ensure him a gold with Nayana
Dharmaratne of Sri Lanka finishing second (7.25). Local lad
Ali Amin (7.19) took the bronze.
In discus throw, Pakistan took their first gold in
athletics through Basharat Ali (52.43m). Simranjeet Singh
earned the third silver for India with a throw of 49.18, while
local favourite Azharul Islam (44.98) took the bronze.