Asian Games: Arpinder ends 48-year wait, Swapna makes history

India's gold tally in athletics surges to five; Dutee Chand dazzles with silver sprint double. India ends day 11 with 54 medals — 11 gold, 20 silver and 23 bronze.

India's Swapna Barman exults after her gold medal feat in heptathlon.   -  PTI

Arpinder Singh was an allrounder of sorts as a young boy. He did the 100, 200, 400m and the long jump. He appeared to be a jack of all trades but a master of none. That left his dad, an army man who was good at kabaddi, very frustrated. He wanted his son to do well in sport but young Arpinder did not excel in anything.

One day, in 2005, a coach advised him to try the triple jump. The youngster was not very sure what the event was but he was quick to pick up things fast.

As day eleven progressed at the Asian Games

On Wednesday, the 25-year-old Arpinder won the men’s triple jump gold at the Asian Games at the GBK Main Stadium here. And that ended 48-year wait for the prized medal last won by Mohinder Singh Gill in 1970 at the Bangkok Asiad.

Surprisingly, Arpinder did not even need to come anywhere close to his personal best (17.17m) for the gold with the best in the field, including China’s Asian champion Zhu Yaming, virtually melting away.

Arpinder’s best, 16.77m, came in the third jump and Uzbekistan’s Ruslan Kurbanov (16.62) and China’s Cao Shuo (16.56) took the silver and bronze. West Bengal’s Swapna Barman brought a rare gold too, in women’s heptathlon, and it was the country’s first in the Asiad in the event while Dutee Chand took the women’s 200m silver, to add to the 100m medal of the same colour she had won a couple of day ago. India has won 11 golds at Jakarta so far here and five of them have come from athletics.

 

“My performance was not that great but gold is good. This is my best medal,” said Arpinder who won a bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. “I was hoping to break the national record (Renjith Maheswary’s 17.30m) but I was very dehydrated because of the humid conditions here.”

The ONGC Officer had just three legal jumps tonight. But Romanian Bedros Bedrosian, the national coach for jumps, felt that Arpinder would have risen to the occasion if the Chinese had.

Read: Swapna Barman, the athlete with 12 toes, bags gold

Meanwhile, Swapna Barman’s realised that sweets could turn sour too. The 21-year-old from Jalpaiguri loves chocolates but she had too much of them a few days ago. And they started hurting her teeth and gums horribly.

“The toothache was unbearable yesterday and I even began to worry whether all the hard work I had put in would go waste. Then, I thought of all my effort and forgot the pain,” said Swapna after taking the historic gold with a personal best 6026 points in the seven eventer.

A good high jumper, Swapna was among the favourites and when she produced an impressive 50.63m with the javelin, the penultimate event, she went into the 800m, the final event (800m), with a big advantage. She knelt down and kissed the track when she realised that she had made history. Her teammate, this season’s Asian leader Purnima Hembram (5837), was fourth.

 

There was big disappointment too with three of the four race walkers — K.T. Irfan and Manish Singh Rawat in the men’s section and women’s national record holder Soumya Baby — being disqualified for repeated fouls in the 20km event. Khushbir Kaur, the women's silver medallist at the last Asiad, was the only finisher, taking the fourth spot in 1:35.24s.

Meanwhile, India's protest in the 4x400m mixed relay has been rejected. India finished behind Bahrain and won the silver and the position will now remain the same.

Also read: Dutee bags second medal, wins 200m silver

But there was one man who was very, very consistent. And it was Iran’s Ehsan Hadadi who won his fourth consecutive gold in the discus throw at the Asiad, this time with 65.71m.

Elsewhere, the surprise story of the day was table tennis where old warhorse Achanta Sharath Kamal and new sensation Manika Batra broke new grounds, giving India a first ever mixed doubles medal at the Asiad — a bronze.

As a result of these path-breaking performances, the country remained on course to better its previous edition’s haul and tallied 54 medals — 11 gold, 20 silver and 23 bronze.

In the semifinals, Sharath and Manika made life tough for China’s Yingsha Sun and Wang Sun before going down 9-11, 5-11, 13-11, 4-11, 8-11.

“It has been an unbelievable campaign so far. Not even in my wildest dreams, I thought of winning a medal at the Asian Games. Now I have got that too. I am still pinching myself,” said Sharath, who will also compete in the men’s doubles and singles competiton.

Indian hockey players celebrate the win over China.   -  PTI

 

The women’s hockey team provided the perfect end to the day, by making the final with a 1-0 win over China. The team is now assured of a better medal than the bronze it won the last time around.

Read: India enters hockey final after 20 years

Also on a roll were the squash players. In their best ever show at the Games, they were assured of two more medals after the men’s and women’s teams advanced to the semifinals.

The men’s defeated Thailand, while the women sailed past China, both winning by by an identical 3-0 margin. The squash players had claimed three bronze medals in the singles competition and with two medals assured in team events, they have exceeded their 2014 performance in terms of number of medals won.

View: In pictures, day 11 of the Asian Games

There were mixed results in the boxing ring.

Star boxer Vikas Krishan (75kg) overcame a bleeding left eye to be assured of an unprecedented third consecutive Asian Games medal, while Amit Panghal (49kg) produced a power-packed performance in his quarterfinal bout to guarantee himself a maiden podium finish.

Also read: Indian paddlers taste success after long wait

However, it was curtains for world silver-medallist Sarjubala Devi (51kg) after she lost her quarterfinal bout 0-5 to China’s Chang Yuan. Her loss means that Indian women boxers would be returning without a medal from the Asiad for the first time since the event was added to the Games in 2010.

There was no end to disappointments in judo, and sepaktakraw, where Indians failed to register any result of significance. After delivering a surprise silver and bronze yesterday, the Kurash contingent endured a disappointing day, failing to win.

(With inputs from PTI)