Jinson finishes top, women's relay team strikes gold

The Indian 4x400 men's relay team bagged silver medal, while Seema Punia and P.U. Chitra took bronze in their respective events.

Jinson Johnson celebrates after winning the gold medal.   -  PTI

After what had happened in the 800m, one would have expected Jinson Johnson to turn right and left to check if there was someone lurking nearby as he left the last corner. But that was not the case. He had come prepared this time for the 1500m event at the 18th Asian Games.

And when he went for his final stretch, it was so strong and smooth that the rest of the field was just forced to fight for the other medals. The gold was his and there was nobody close.

Johnson's 1500m gold ended a 56-year wait for India at the event. The last Indian to win at the Asiad was Mohinder Singh in 1962, also in Jakarta.

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“Yes, this is a sweet revenge for me after I lost the 800m and I’m so happy because this is my first major gold,” said the 27-year-old armyman from Kozhikode who clocked 3:44.72s at the GBK Main Stadium here on Thursday evening.

“The last 80m was my weak point in the last race so I made sure I kept some extra energy for the last part. This is the first time I’m doing two events in a major meet so to finish with a gold and silver is something very special.”

Looks like a dream: Vismaya 

Just a few days back, she was made to run the confirmatory trials here to confirm her place in the women’s relay team. And here she was, running the anchor leg and leading the team to gold.

“This looks like a dream,” said V.K. Vismaya who was making her debut in a major meet. I’ve run in just one senior National meet… I can’t believe I’m here with gold,” said the 21-year-old.

Vismaya had impressed everybody with her stunning run at the National varsities’ meet in Guntur last year, and soon the call came to attend the national camp.

“I came to athletics because of my sister, a distance runner who kept pushing me to run,” said Vismaya. “I’m very thankful to her and all my coaches.”

Jinson was in the second spot, behind Qatar’s Al Musaab, for a major part of the race. And Manjit Singh, who had sneaked in to steal the gold from him in the 800m, appeared to be caught in the traffic midway through the race and went on to finish fourth. Iranian Amir Moradi won the silver in a season-best 3:45.82 while Bahrain’s Mohammed Tiouali took the bronze.

There were more celebrations later as the 4x400m relay women won the gold, their fifth in a row at the Asian Games. Surprisingly, despite their sparkling record, the Indians did not start as favourites. Bahrain, which had one of the world’s best quartermilers in Salwa Eid Naser, was tipped to win but the side was without its star hurdler and strong quartermiler Kemi Adekoya and without her, the team was not the force it was in the mixed relay earlier.

The Indian team too had some major changes. Missing was the Asian champion Nirmala Sheoran, who had finished fourth in the 400m earlier, and surprisingly Hima Das, the new national record holder and a silver medallist in the quartermile here earlier, did not run the last leg.

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Instead, it was the team’s newcomer V.K. Vismaya who ran the anchor with Hima running the opening round. With Hima giving the side a good lead and with M.R. Poovamma, Saritaben Gayakwad and Vismaya staying steady, India had it easy in the end, winning the gold in 3:28.72s with Bahrain taking silver (3:30.61).

RELAY MEN WIN SILVER

The 4x400m relay men appeared to be struggling a bit but Muhammed Anas and Arokia Rajiv, who ran the last two legs, steadied the boat to a good extent and helped the team to silver (3:01.85s) behind Qatar which took the gold in a new Asian record time (3:00.56s, OR 3:00.76). Kunhu Muhammed and A. Dharun were the other members of the team.

Seema Punia, the defending champion in the women’s discus throw, had to be content with a bronze this time after a day’s best of 62.26m. Asian champion P.U. Chitra also won a bronze in the women’s 1500m as India finished its athletics competition with an impressive seven gold, 10 silvers and two bronzes. That saw the country finish in the third spot in the medal table in athletics, behind China (12-12-9) and Bahrain (12-6-7). Seven of the country’s 13 golds so far have come from athletics here.

The day’s only sour point came in the men’s 50km race walk where Sandeep Kumar, the lone Indian entry, suffered a disqualification.