Gomathi’s surprise…and the ones that got away at the Asian Athletics Championships

From Gomathi Marimuthu's gold medal to Javelin thrower Shivpal Singh and hurdler MP Jabir qualification for the World Championships, here's a round up of India's campaign at the Asian Athletics Championships.

India's Gomathi Marimuthu reacts after winning the gold medal in the women's 800m race at the Asian Athletics Championships held in Doha.   -  PTi

She may have been a late-starter in athletics, taking to the track seriously only at the age of 20, but Gomathi Marimuthu gave India one of its best moments at the 23rd Asian Championships which concluded in Doha on Wednesday.

For Gomathi, life virtually began at 30, an age when women athletes in the country consider hanging their boots.

Running against some of the best in the business, including China’s Asian Games champion Wang Chunyu and Kazakhstan’s former two-time Asiad winner Margarita Mukasheva, Gomathi came out with a smart strategy to grab the 800m gold.

RELATED| Farmer's daughter Gomathi blazes the track in Doha, mother learns of golden feat from neighbour

Many of the Chinese athletes train and compete in the US and Wang had run in a number of American meets prior to Doha, but it was Gomathi who reigned supreme.

“Gomathi ran an excellent race,” Bahadur Singh, the Chief National Coach, told Sportstar on Thursday.

Gomathi Marimuthu celebrates after winning gold at the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha on Monday.   -  Twitter @afiindia

 

Gomathi’s gold was certainly the biggest surprise for India which finished fourth in the table with 17 medals, including three gold and seven silvers,behind Bahrain (11 gold), China (9) and Japan (6).

India had topped the medal table with 12 golds in the 2017 edition, but many top athletes were missing then as the championships were too close to the London Worlds.

RELATED| Asian Athletics Championships: Chitra strikes gold as India finishes with 17 medals

India had also won seven athletics golds at last year’s Jakarta Asian Games but many prominent names like World No. 4 javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, Asiad 800m gold medallist Manjit Singh, hurdler A. Dharun missed out this tome around owing to injuries.

Asiad 1500m champion Jinson Johnson and junior World champion quartermiler Hima Das suffered injuries in Doha and missed medals.

- Chitra reclaims her gold -

While Tajinder Singh Toor winning the men’s shot put gold was expected, P.U. Chitra's gold medal in the women’s 1500m was also a bit of a surprise despite the 23-year-old being the defending champion.

The two Bahraini stars, Ethiopia-born former under-18 World champion Gashaw Tigest and Kenya-born Yavi Winfred Mutile were expect to make Chitra’s life difficult. But it turned out to be a different story in the end.

PU Chitra with her 1500m gold medal at 2019 Asian Athletics Championships.   -  Reuters

 

“The total number of medals was as per my expectation. But we missed four or five medals, in the men’s 800m and 1500m men (through Jinson’s injury) and in the men’s triple jump,” said Bahadur.

RELATED| Swapna Barman and 4x400m mixed relay team clinch silver, Sanjivani Jadhav wins bronze

And Shivpal Singh's 86.23m for the javelin throw silver was as good as gold.

“He was nowhere in the Asian Games after suffering an injury but in Doha, he was very impressive. M.P. Jabir’s personal 49.13s in the 400m hurdles was also a top performance,” added Bahadur.

India's Jabir Madari Palliyalil celebrates with the tricolour after winning the bronze medal in the men's 400m hurdles final at the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha on Monday.

 

Both Shivpal (No. 2 in 2019 World performance list) and Jabir (No. 5) have achieved the qualification standards for this September’s World Championships in Doha.

- Many a personal best -

There were many others who produced personal bests, including Gavit Murli Kumar (5000 & 10,000m), Parul Chaudhary (women’s 5000m & steeplechase) and Sanjivani Jadhav (women’s 10,000) and of course, Dutee Chand, who lowered her 100m national record to 11.26s.

RELATED| Annu Rani and Avinash Sable clinch silver

The Asian Championship also proved that our athletes are capable of raising their standard if they are offered quality international exposure and this is where the exclusion of talented high jumper Tejaswin Shankar from the team was a big letdown for the sport.

- Davinder, Anas disappoint -

The disappointments came from javelin thrower Davinder Singh Kang, the lone Indian to qualify for the final at the 2017 Worlds, who could only manage 71.58m for the 10 spot, quartermilers Muhammed Anas and Arokia Rajiv’s and Dutee Chand’s (100m) medal miss and Praveen Chitravel’s ‘no mark’ in triple jump.

What about the relays? Let’s talk about them another day.