Lalita clinches Rio berth with steeplechase win, Vikas bags discus gold in Asian Athletics C’ships
Wuhan (China): Lalita Babar bagged a gold in 3000m steeplechase with a national record shattering effort, while ace discus thrower Vikas Dowda struck gold too as Indians produced an impressive show to grab three medals on the third and penultimate day of the 21st Asian Athletics
championships on Saturday.
Lalita improved her own 3000m steeplechase national record to win the gold in 9:34.13. The Maharashtra athlete had become the favourite to win the gold after the leading Asian in this event, Ruth Chebet of Bahrain withdrew from the race at Wuhan Sports Centre.
China’s Li Zhenzhu, silver medallist in the Incheon Asian Games last year ahead of Lalita’s bronze, could manage only a second place today with a timing of 9:41.43. Her compatriot Zhang Xiyan won the bronze in 9:46.82.
26-year-old Lalita also qualified for 2016 Rio Olympics as her effort today went past the qualifying standard of 9:45.00. Her earlier national record stood at 9:35.37, which she came up while winning a bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
31-year-old Gowda successfully defended his title he won in 2013 in Pune, though he came up with a below-par effort. Gowda, who had come up with two 65m-plus throws this year, but yet to qualify for Rio Olympics, hurled the disc to 62.03m to win the gold. Kuwaiti Eisa Zankawi (61.57m) and Iranian
Mahmoud Samimi (59.78m) were the other medallists.
Asian record-holder Ehsan Hadadi of Iran ended up with ‘no mark’. Today’s triumph was one of the few instances when Gowda ended ahead of Hadadi, who had won the gold in the Incheon Asian Games.
G Lakshmanan fetched a silver for India as he won his second medal of the championships with a brilliant 10000m race, clocking 29:42.81 to finish behind Bahrain’s Asian Games gold medallist El Hassan El Abbasi (28:50.71).
The 25-year-old Tamil Nadu distance runner earlier won the 5000m bronze on the opening day.
With today’s three medals, India’s tally swelled to three gold, three silver and two bronze. Inderjeet Singh had won the first gold for India in men’s shot put event on the opening day on June 3
In other events, Dharambir Singh and Srabani Nanda entered the finals of men’s and women’s 200m race while Tintu Luka and M Gomathi qualified for women’s 800m final. Jinson Johnson also qualified for men’s 800m final.
Dharambir equalled his personal best of 20.87 secs in the semi-finals while Srabani posted her second career best time of 23.71 secs in the heats to qualify for the final.
The Odisha girl had clocked 23.67 secs while winning her event in the Federation Cup at Mangalore last month.
National record holder Luka, on the other hand, was not at her best though she led the women’s 800m qualifiers with a time of 2:06.33. Another Indian in the fray, Gomathi also made it to the final as a fastest loser by finishing third in heat number two with a time of 2:11.14.
Jinson Johnson also make the cut in men’s 800m as he finished second in the first heat with a time of 1:51.55 behind Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Obaid Al-Salhi (1:51.52).
It was heartbreak for Anu Raghavan (57.79 secs) in women’s 400m hurdles as missed the bronze by 1/10th of a second to local girl Xiao Xia (57.69). As expected Oluwakemi Adekoya of Bahrain won the gold in a superb 54.31 secs. Kira Manami of Japan went home with the silver in 57.14 secs.
India could not get any medal in men’s 3000m steeplechase event as Jaiveer Singh (8:5216) and Incheon Asian Games bronze medalist Naveen Kumar (9:12.72) managing only fifth and seventh places respectively.
In other events, home country’s Li Ling improved his Asian Record in Pole Vault to 4.66m to bag a gold while Huang Shih-Feng of Chinese Taipei won men’s javelin throw by setting out the spear to 79.74m.
Korean triple jumper Kim Deok-Hyeon upset home favourite Cao Shuo to win the gold with a leap of 16.86m while Japan’s Konishi Yuta (49.58) led the podium-finishers in the men’s 400m hurdles.
Bahrain’s John Koech ran a classic race clocking 8:27.03 to win the gold in men’s 3000m steeplechase.