Lakshmanan completes 5,000-10,000m double at Asian Athletics Ch'shp

Govindan Lakshmanan, who now has two tickets for next month’s London Worlds, became the first Indian to complete a 5,000-10,000m double at the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships.

“My coach had given me special workouts for this, the strategy was to run the last lap in 53 or 54 seconds,” said Lakshmanan, who hails from Sokku Rani village in Pudukottai.   -  PTI

Soon after taking the 5,000m gold on the opening day, Govindan Lakshmanan had said that winning a distance double would be asking for too much. But on a humid Sunday night, the 27-year-old from Tamil Nadu looked fresh as he broke away from the rest of the pack on the back straight and won the 10,000m gold at the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships here.

Lakshmanan, who now has two tickets for next month’s London Worlds, became the first Indian to complete a 5,000-10,000m double at the Asians.

Lakshmanan and teammate T. Gopi stayed close to each other in the lead pack almost all through. But on the back straight, the champion, who is coached by Olympian Surender Singh, made his crucial move and appeared to run the last lap like a quartermiler.

“My coach had given me special workouts for this, the strategy was to run the last lap in 53 or 54 seconds,” said Lakshmanan, who hails from Sokku Rani village in Pudukottai.

India collected four more golds on the final day to take its total to 12 and finished the table topper, ahead of super power China, with its best-ever finish in these championships.

Neeraj Chopra, the U-20 world champion, heptathlete Swapna Barman and the men’s and women’s mile relay teams were the others to strike gold on Sunday.

With Taipei’s Chao-Tsun Cheng, one of the best throwers in the world this year, in the fray, many had felt it would be difficult for the 19-year-old Neeraj here.

The lead changed hands a few times but Haryana’s Neeraj came good when it mattered the most, uncorking a brilliant 85.23m on his final throw to take the gold, pushing Qatar’s Bader Magour Ahmed to silver.

Another Indian, Davinder Singh Kang, took the bronze despite being under pressure after testing positive for marijuana late last month.

Heptathlete Swapna won the multi-eventer with a personal best 5,942 points while Purnima Hembram won the bronze medal.

Anchored by Tamil Nadu’s Arokia Rajiv, India won the men’s relay comfortably and in the women’s event, there was a bit of a fumble in the baton exchange between young Jisna Mathew and Nirmala Sheoran, but there were no worries in the end.

The final day’s gold count could have gone to six but Pune’s Archana Adhav, who won the women’s 800m, was disqualified for obstructing two Sri Lankan athletes, Nimali Waliwarsha and Gayanthika Thushari, near the finish.

The medal table (top 5 only, read as gold, silver, bronze and total):
1. India 12-5-12 = 29
2. China 8-7-5 = 20
3. Kazakhstan 4-2-2 = 8
4. Iran 4-0-1 = 5
5. Vietnam 2-2-0 =4