India opened its account in athletics with a historic bronze on the first day of track and field action as Kiran Baliyan picked up the country’s first medal in women’s shot put in 72 years on Friday.
Baliyan threw to a distance of 17.36m in her third attempt to finish third behind the Chinese duo of reigning Olympic champion Lijiao Gong and Jiayuan Song. They were also the only three athletes to cross the 17m mark, Gong taking gold with a massive 19.58m throw.
For someone who took to the sport accidentally and wasn’t serious about till a few years ago, Kiran overshadowed senior pro Manpreet Kaur completely with all her throws barring one going further than Manpreet’s best effort of 16.25m that saw her finish fifth.
“I did not come here thinking I would create history or anything. In fact, I did not even know of this record or such a long gap till now. I only wanted to give my best performance. I knew I was in a good position when I saw the start list yesterday. I am not very happy with my performance, this is not my best but for getting a medal for the country and for athletics on the first day itself, I am satisfied,” Kiran said after her event.
The 24-year old Meerut resident was also candid about not being too serious while getting into the sport. “There was a North Zone meet in Meerut in 2014 and my name was entered accidentally instead of someone else, I used to throw javelin for fun earlier. My coach told me to go ahead, there were three participants and I finished third. That’s how shot put started for me,” she laughed, crediting her coach Robin Singh for getting her into the sport.
Relaxed and nonchalant, Kiran admitted she was a little nervous at the outset but not about her own performance. “There was no pressure of performance. But first Asian Games, such a huge crowd, anyone will get nervous initially before getting into a rhythm. That was there,” she said.
Earlier in the evening, Aishwarya Mishra equalled her season best of 52.73 seconds to finish second in her heat behind Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser and qualify for the 400m final while Himanshi Malik failed to advance.
Among the men, Mohd. Ajmal advanced with 45.76s while Mohd. Anas finished third in a disappointing 46.29s to be eliminated. In Hammer Throw, India’s Tanya Chaudhary and Rachna Kumari finished seventh and ninth respectively. In the morning, Vikash Singh finished fifth in 1:27:33 in the men’s 20km race walk while Sandeep Kumar was disqualified after three warnings. Priyanka Goswami also finished fifth in 1:43:07.
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