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

P.U. Chitra bagged gold in the 1500m event as India finished its campaign at the Asian Athletics Championships with 17 medals.

P.U. Chitra celebrates after bagging the 1500m gold medal in Doha.   -  AFP Photo

The Bahrainis tried to waylay her, tried to lock her in. But P.U. Chitra smartly stayed clear to retain her women’s 1500m gold in the Asian Athletics Championships at the Khalifa Stadium here on Wednesday evening.

Chitra was the defending champion in the event but with runners like Bahrain’s former under-18 World champion Gashaw Tigest and Yavi Winfred in the fray, one thought that life would be tough for the 23-year-old from Palakkad, Kerala.

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But Chitra brilliantly overtook Bahrain’s Yavi, who had already won two golds here earlier, on the last curve and then beat a tiring Gashaw on the home stretch to take the gold in 4:14.56s and book an automatic berth for this September’s World Championships in Doha. Gashaw, whose personal best was nearly six seconds faster than Chitra’s, took the silver in 4:14.81.

“Got a bit nervous towards the end as I was next to Gashaw. She had beaten me in the Asian Games where I finished third. I had to really push hard in the end,” said Chitra.

Ajay Kumar Saroj, probably inspired by Chitra, almost tried out a similar strategy in the men’s 1500m and was rewarded with a silver in a photo finish. Abraham Rotich won the gold with a time of 3:42.85s while defending champion Ajay and Qatar’s Musaab Ali were credited with a similar time (3:43.18s) but the Indian was slightly ahead at the finish. The Bahrain athletes had stayed away from the last Asians in Bhubaneswar in 2017.

A little later, India's Prachi, M.R. Poovamma, Saritaben Gayakwad and V.K. Vismaya, won the women’s 4x400m relay silver in a season-best 3:32.21s. Bahrain, with Salwa Naser coming up with a fine anchor leg, overtook India with about 50m from the finish to take the gold in 3:32.10s.

MEN’S RELAY TEAM DISQUALIFIED

The men’s mile relay team of Kunhu Mohammed, K.S. Jeevan, Muhammed Anas and Arokia Rajiv, also finished second in 3:03.28s but was later disqualified under rule 163.2 (impeding an athlete). Japan won the gold (3:02.94s). India filed an appeal against the decision but it was rejected.

Meanwhile, Dutee Chand shocked Bahrain’s Asian Games gold medallist Edidiong Odiong but there were bigger names to handle, like Bahrain’s Nigeria-born World No. 1 quartermiler Salwa Naser and Kazakhstan’s former Asian Games gold medallist Olga Safronova, in the women’s 200m final.

Read: Swapna Barman and 4x400m mixed relay team clinch silver, Sanjivani Jadhav wins bronze

In the end, Dutee finished with a bronze to brush away the disappointments in the 100m and the sprint relay earlier. Salwa took the gold in a championships’ record time of 22.74s while Dutee clocked 23.24.

There were no medals in women’s discus throw with Navjeet Dhillon (57.47m) and Kamalpreet Kaur (55.59) finishing fourth and fifth respectively. China’s Feng Bin’s second-round effort of 65.36m broke the championships record and brought her the gold.  

India finished with 17 medals, including three gold and seven silver medals.

SANJIVANI GETS BRONZE

Sanjivani Jadhav won the women’s 10,000m bronze in a personal best time of 32:44.96 on Tuesday night. The event was won by Bahrain’s Ethiopia-born Shitaye Habtegebriel in a championships’ record time of 31:15.62.