The 30-year-old comes up with a smart strategy to upstage the favourites; silver for Shivpal in javelin, bronze for hurdlers Jabir and Saritaben
India’s first gold at the 23rd Asian athletics championships came from an unlikely source at the Khalifa International Stadium on Monday.
Gomathi Marimuthu ran the race of her life, with a smart strategy, as she fought her way from the back of the pack and shocked the field to take the women’s 800m honours. It was the 30-year-old Tamil Nadu athlete’s first major gold.
Gomathi made her move on the back straight and midway through the home straight. With the two leading runners virtually blocking her, she smartly moved to the outer lane, surprised Kazakhstan’s Margarita Mukasheva and China’s Wang Chunyu and took the coveted medal in a personal best 2:02.70s. Her previous best (2:03.21) was the golden run at the Federation Cup at Patiala recently.
Gomathi’s was not the day’s only big surprise. Neeraj Chopra might be missing here and Davinder Singh Kang may not be anywhere close to his best, but Shivpal Singh kept the javelin throw in the limelight as he took the silver with an impressive second-round effort of 86.23m.
That effort was nearly four metres more than his personal best of 82.56m that came at last month’s Federation Cup at Patiala and also made the 23-year-old Shivpal the second-best Indian in the event behind Neeraj, the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games gold medallist who pulled out with an elbow strain. Taipei’s Chao-Tsun Cheng won the gold with a world-leading 86.72m.
Saritaben finishes well
There were other impressive performances too from the Indians. M.P. Jabir took the men’s 400m hurdles bronze with a personal best of 49.13s while Saritaben Gayakwad bagged the women’s hurdles bronze after a superb finish saw her move from fourth to third.
Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba, the favourite, won the men’s gold in a world-leading 47.51s while Vietnam’s Thi Lan Quach took the women’s title in 56.10s.
However, a medal eluded the Indians in the men’s 400m. Muhammed Anas and Arokia Rajiv had won the gold and silver at the last Asians in Bhubaneswar and the former had finished second in the Asian Games too. On Monday, there was nothing around the Indians’ necks. Arokia (45.37s) appeared to be in the medal zone towards the end but was beaten to the bronze by Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Litvin (45.25) while Kuwait’s Yousef Karam (44.84s) and Bahrain’s Abbas Abubaker (45.14) took the gold and silver. Anas was last in 46.10.
Dutee Chand, who broke her own National record in the women’s 100m first round with a 11.28s run, brought it down to 11.26s while winning her semifinal.
Silver for Avinash
Late on Sunday, Avinash Sable won the men’s 3000m steeple chase silver, finishing behind Bahrain’s John Kibet Koech in 8:30.19s. The Bahrainian’s time of 8:25.87s took him to the top of the world list this year while Avinash is in the second spot with his National record of 8:28.94s clocked at the Federation Cup at Patiala.
Later, Gavit Murli Kumar took the bronze in the men’s 10,000m in a personal best 28:38.34s, a time that was five seconds faster than his best clocked while winning the gold at the Golden Spike meeting in the Netherlands last year. He is the second-fastest Indian ever in the event, just behind Surendra Singh’s 28:02.89.
Bahrain’s Dawit Fikadu (28:26.30) and Chani Hassan (28:31.30) won the gold and silver.