Three athletics gold medals for India in South Asian Games
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Last Updated: Saturday, February 06, 2010, 21:50
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 recovery.

On the opening day of athletics, Sri Lanka clinched two gold, three silver and one bronze while Pakistan had a share of 1-1-1.

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 with.

Lankans also clinched the bronze through P H Chamal (4:10.97).

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 respectively.

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 Aruparayil (52.52).

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.


First Published: Saturday, February 06, 2010, 21:50

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