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Asian Games: India bags four medals on a fruitful day in athletics

Indian track and field athletes put behind the disappointment of denying an additional medal in women's 3000m steeplechase event as they picked up one silver and three bronze on the second day of athletics competitions at the Asian Games here on Sunday.

PTI| Updated: Sep 28, 2014, 19:51 PM IST
Asian Games: India bags four medals on a fruitful day in athletics

Incheon: Indian track and field athletes put behind the disappointment of denying an additional medal in women's 3000m steeplechase event as they picked up one silver and three bronze on the second day of athletics competitions at the Asian Games here on Sunday.

Woman race walker Khushbir Kaur clinched the silver medal in the 20km walk before 400m runners Rajiv Arokia and M R Poovamma grabbed a bronze each in men's and women's 400m race while Manju Bala secured a bronze in women's hammer throw to add to the growing medal tally from track and field events.

Yesterday, Lalita Babar had won a bronze in the controversy-ridden women's 3000m steeplechase event to open the medal count for the country.

The jury's decision to reinstate Bahrain's Ruth Jebet as the gold medal winner after she had been stripped of the women's 3000m steeplechase title for an infringement of the running rules did not go down well with the Indian camp.

However, cheers were brought to the contingent when 20km race walker Khushbir timed her race to perfection to clinch the women's bronze medal in the gruelling event after being in third place consistently till between the 16 and 18km marks.

Khushbir clocked 1 hour and 33.07 seconds to take the second spot behind China's Lu Xiuzhi (1:21.52), who led from the start, and ahead of Jeon Yeonguen (1:33.18) who was overtaken by the Indian walker.

Khushbir, who scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman to win a medal in race walk in the Asian Games, was cautioned twice during the race but kept on walking in a determined fashion.

"I led the field and then was cautioned and pushed to second place. I got cautioned again between 16 and 18 kms and was pushed to third place, before I decided to go for the gold. I could not do so. This is my first medal in the Asian Games," said Khushbir.

The evening programme saw Karnataka's seasoned Poovamma make up for a slow start and get into medal contention on the back straight before settling for the bronze in 52.36, well below her personal best of 51.73 done in Lucknow during the National Inter-State Meet in June.

The gold was won by yet another of Bahrain's African import O M Adekaya in a fast 51.59 while Vietnam's Quach Thi Lan picked up the silver in 52.06, her personal best.

Poovamma's medal was expected, but not that won by Arokia Rajiv, the army runner belonging to Madras Regiment and based in Wellington, Ooty.

The Tamil Nadu runner, who had won his semifinal heat yesterday, clocked a personal best time of 45.92 (his previous best being 46.13) and held off Japan's Yuzo Kanemaru's challenge for the bronze medal.

"I never expected a medal. I was aiming for 4th or 5th place. I am extremely happy. I am indebted to the army for this medal," said the athlete who had started as a long jumper before his coach made him a 800m runner first after seeing his endurance and then into a one-lapper after seeing his speed.

Poovamma dedicated her medal to her mother Raji.

"I started slower than yesterday but then was in medal contention when the last 150m were left. I knew I cannot win the gold as the Bahrain runner is very good but thought I could get the silver or bronze. I am sure we will get the gold in 4x400m relay now that Mandeep too is back in form," said Poovamma.

Mandeep Kaur finished sixth in the eight competitor field with a timing of 53.38secs.

Manju Bala provided India with another medal - bronze - when she finished third in the women's hammer throw with a best heave of 60.47m which she did in her opening attempt.

She committed a foul off her next throw and was never in rhythm later as she threw two 60-plus throws interspersed in between with two very modest efforts of 57.80 and 57.19.

China swept the gold and silver with stupendous throws by gold winner Zhang Wenxiu, with a new Games mark of 77.33m, and her compatriot and Asian record holder Wang Zheng (74.16m).

The difference between these two and the rest, including Manju, was huge.

The medal ceremony of the women's 3000m steeplechase, postponed from yesterday after the winner from Bahrain was declared to have been disqualified, was held today.

Ruth said after receiving her gold from her own athletics federation president that she was not even aware of the mistake that she had committed.

"I was quite shocked because I wasn't even aware of the mistake," she said about the judges' ruling that she had stepped inside the track in the race when well ahead of the rest.

"I'm happy to become a gold medallist. Because I had a problem yesterday. But I fought for my king. I was waiting for the gold," she added.

"I'm an athlete from India. This is my first time to participate in Asian Games. I did not break the Indian national record but broke my personal record. I'm satisfied," said Lalita about her performance which saw her beat the challenge from compatriot and defending champion Sudha Singh.