Johnson, Dutee's performances raise hopes

The duo has returned the best timings in the continent.

In fine form: Jinson Johnson has peaked at the right time for the Asian Games.   -  K. Murali Kumar

New men's 800m National record-holder Jinson Johnson and women's 100m National record-holder Dutee Chand should land gold medals if they repeat their personal bests at the Asian Games in Indonesia.

Johnson broke Sriram Singh's 42-year-old record with a time of 1:45. 65s at the National inter-State athletics championship here. He can also do well in 1500m. Jinson's close friend and competitor Manjit Singh (1:46.24), who came second in 800m, also looks set to go for a medal.

Dutee bettered her own National mark clocking 11.29s in the semifinals.

A comparison with a list of this year's best athletes made on June 22 shows that Johnson and Dutee have returned best timings in the continent.

In men's 400m, Muhammed Anas could not compete in the semifinals as he was down with fever, but his National record (45.31) will hold him in good stead for a podium finish. Arokia Rajiv (45.78), too, has an outside chance.

Even though Dharun A. (49.68) has returned lower timing than his showing in March, he will remain hopeful in the 400m hurdles.

Arpinder Singh is the third man from Asia to cross 17m in triple jump this year and should stay among the medal prospects.

Shivpal Singh's 82.28m earns him the third best mark and will project him as a podium finisher along with star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra.

New women's 400m sensation, Hima Das and Nirmala Sheoran, who timed 51.13s and 51.25s to take the top two slots here, will look to ensure medals, if not gold, in the quadrennial event.

The best timing, 49.84s, for the one-lap race was recorded by Bahrain's Salwa Eid Naser last month.

Based on the inter-State meet performance, India can hope to get a gold medal from Chitra P.U., who returned 4:11.55s in women's 1500m, which happens to be the best in 2018 in the continent.

Monika Chaudhary (4:12.44) and Jhuma Khatun (4:12.84) also look like securing medals.

Seasoned Sudha Singh has improved her performance since the Federation Cup in Patiala in March with 9:39.50s to stay behind Winfred Yavi (9:16.38) of Bahrain in women's 3000m steeplechase.

Jauna Murmu, who showed good signs of improvement and took the 400m hurdles timing 57.02s, has registered the third best time after Aminat Yusuf Odeyemi (55.54) and Kemi Adekoya (56.83) of Bahrain and has raised hopes of a medal.

Purnima Hembram's effort of 5898 is at the peak in the continent so far and promises a lot for the country in heptathlon.

Of course, one cannot ignore the name of Seema Punia, the defending champion in women's discus, who got permission to skip the inter-State meet like Chopra.

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