Asian Games 2018: India bags one gold, three silver medals from track and field

The 20-year-old Neeraj Chopra became India's first javelin thrower to strike gold at the Asiad.

“The preparations were very good, I had expected to break the Games record (89.15) but the javelin elevation was high, so it didn’t go far,” said Chopra after bagging gold.   -  PTI

He does not predict big throws, just assures you that he would give his best. Once again, Neeraj Chopra let his throws do all the talking as he shattered his own national record en route to the men’s javelin gold at the Asian Games.

Chopra’s friend, Taipei’s Asian record holder Chao-Tsun Cheng, had said that it would take 88m to win here. That is exactly what Chopra did, though Cheng was nowhere in the picture.

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The 20-year-old from Haryana now becomes the country’s first javelin thrower to strike gold at the Asiad. Just one throw, his first (83.46m), was enough to bring Chopra the gold. And his big one, the 88.06 that broke his three-month-old national mark of 87.43, came in the third round.

He had another quality throw of 86.36m. Incidentally, even his poorest throw on Monday (83.25) would have fetched him the gold.  China’s Liu Quizhen (82.22) and Pakistan’s Nadeem Arshad (80.75) took the other two medals.

“The preparations were very good, I had expected to break the Games record (89.15) but the javelin elevation was high, so it didn’t go far,” said Chopra.

Shivpal Singh, the other Indian in the fray, was eighth with a shockingly poor 74.11m.

India also won three more silvers, through Tamil Nadu’s 400m hurdler A. Dharun, Kerala long jumper V. Neena and UP steeplechaser Sudha Singh.

After bagging the 400m hurdles silver, Dharun said, “I was focused on my race, did not (think about) what the others were doing."

Good too, for that helped him win his life’s most precious medal.

Dharun was lying third with about 40m to home but he fought hard at the finish to pip   Japan’s Abe Takatoshi for the silver behind Qatar’s Mauritania-born Abderrahman Samba.

The 21-year-old's time of 48.96s bettered the national record he had set in Patiala (49.45) a few months ago.

“I just thought I’d get a bronze, this is a big surprise,” said Dharun.

Neena, meanwhile, had expected China’s Asian leader Xu Xiaoling to produce all the fireworks in the women’s long jump. But it was Vietnam’s Asian champion, Bui Thi Thu Thao, who walked away with the gold with 6.55m while Neena’s 6.51m brought her the silver and Xiaoling took the bronze with 6.50.

“For the last two years, Bui has been my big stumbling block, she has been beating me wherever I go. She beat me at the last Asians too in Bhubaneswar,” said Neena, the daughter of a daily wage earner from Kozhikode who is coached by Romanian Bedros Bedrosian.

READ| Sindhu reaches historic final, Saina takes bronze

Sudha Singh, who won the steeplechase gold in 2010, brought the other silver, finishing behind Bahrain’s Nigeria-born Winfred Yavi in 9:40.03s.

“People had written me off because I was 32 but the federation had faith in me, I think have repaid that now,” said Sudha.

In other action, Kerala’s Anu Raghavan clocked a personal best 56.92 as she finished fourth in the women’s 400m hurdles while Karnataka high jumper B. Chethan was eighth in the men’s high jump with 2.20m.

Meanwhile, badminton ace P V Sindhu advanced to a historic final after beating Akane Yamaguchi 21-17, 15-21, 21-10 for her second win over the Japanese at the Asian Games, having beaten her in the team championship as well.

Sindhu will now fight it out with Tai Tzu-Ying to claim India’s first ever individual gold in badminton. Tai ended Saina’s run in the semifinals today, which fetched the seasoned Indian her maiden Asiad bronze.

“I have a strategy in place for her. It should be a good match,” said world No.3 Sindhu, who has not beaten Tai in their last five meetings.

The Indian men’s table tennis team also did almost the unthinkable by beating fancied Japan 3-1 in the quarterfinals to assure the country its first-ever medal in table tennis in the history of the Asian Games.

Word number 33, Sharath Kamal, blanked world number 19 Kenta Matsudaira 11-8, 12-10, 11-8 in the only singles he needed to play tonight.

Rising star G. Sathiyan, ranked 39, delivered on the big stage, winning both his singles against 28th ranked Jin Ueda and Matsudaira.

On the hockey field, the women’s team followed the men into the semifinals. Skipper Rani Rampal scored a hat-trick as the title contenders outplayed Thailand 5-0 to go into the semis undefeated.

It was a reasonably good day for the boxers as well with Commonwealth Games medal-winning duo of Vikas Krishan (75kg) and Amit Panghal (49kg) advancing to the quarterfinals along with Dheeraj Rangi.

Vikas out-ounched Pakistan’s Tanveer Ahmed in his pre-quarterfinal bout before Amit recovered from a rusty start to outwit Mongolia’s Enkhmandakh Kharhuu -- both the wins being unanimous verdicts.

Later, national champion Dheeraj Rangi (64kg) defeated Mongolia’s Nurlan Kobashev to also be one win away from a guaranteed medal.

However, Commonwealth Games bronze-winner Mohammed Husammuddin (56kg) lost a close contest against Kyrgyzstan’s Enkh-Amar Kharkhuu to bow out of the competition in the pre-quarterfinal stage.

The squash players also made a winning start in the team events. The men beat Indonesia 3-0 in the morning before overwhelming Singapore by the same margin. The women, who had only one match, defeated Iran 3-0.

However, cycling and karate did not throw up good results for India.

In cycling, both the men’s and women’s sprint and pursuit teams failed to qualify for the final rounds. In the team sprint events, the two teams finished seventh in the qualification round out of eight participants.

India did not have a single winner in the karate competition.

In volleyball, the Indian women’s team ended its campaign after losing 0-3 to China in the last Pool B match. In a 67-minute match, India lost 18-25 19-25 9-25 to China, who remained unbeaten in the pool stage.

Already out of reckoning, the Indian men’s Sepak Takraw team ended its campaign on a positive note, beating Nepal 2-0 in the last group B regu match.

(With inputs from PTI).