BHUBANESWAR: The shock exit of China’s Diamond League long jumper Zhang Yaoguang from the qualifications was the biggest news to emerge from the morning session on the third day of competitions in the Asian Athletics Championships at the Kalinga Stadium here on Saturday.
For someone who had leapt 8.19m earlier this year, the 23-year-old Chinese National champion was unable to get past 7.18 on three attempts and did not make the 12-man list of finalists. His team-mate, Huang Changzhou, marked 7.60m on his first attempt and passed his next two, secure of qualifying for the final.
Here’s a look at how the morning’s events panned out:
Men’s 800m first round: Japan’s Sho Kawamoto set the stage for an exciting 800m final with the fastest qualifying time of 1:50.32 ahead of Qatar’s Jamal Hairane (1:50.32) in a quick race that also took China’s Ma Junyi into the final as one of the two fastest ‘losers’ in the heats. Yet, the ease with which Indian Jinson Johnson won the opening heat in 1:50.48 will place him among the favourites in the medal race. Qatar’s Mohamed Nasir and Kuwait’s R Alzofairi (the other fastest ‘loser’) also came home inside 1:51.00. India’s other runner also got the crowd going for him by winning the third heats in 1:51.62.
Men’s 110m hurdles: Kuwait’s Yaqoub Al-Youha, who win the Asian Grand Prix earlier this year, and two-time AAC silver medallist Abdulaziz Al-mandeel claimed top qualifying times of 13.60 second and 13.65 seconds to lead a bunch of eight hurdlers into the finals, Saudi Arabia’s Ahmed Khader, who won the third heats in 13.69 and Japan’s Shunya Takayama (13.70), who has one of the fastest times in Asia this season, are the others who showed that they can up the ante in the final. India’s US-based Siddhanth Thingalaya qualified as one of the two fastest losers, having clocked 13.72 second in finishing third behind Yaqoub Al-Youha and Shunya Takayama in the fastest of the three heats.
Men’s long jump qualification: Japan’s Shinichiro Shimono leapt 7.67m on first attempt and could pack his bags, passing his remaining two jumps, as he led the charge for qualification, South Korea’s Joo Eunjae fouled his first two take-off attempts but came up with a 7.62m jump to earn a place in the final. Similarly, Japanese Shoutarou Shiroyama needed a third attempt after two fouls to secure a 7.59m effort and a place in the final. India’s leading jumper Ankit Sharma got to 7.42m on his first attempt but his bid to improve on that did not meet with success on both occasions, with the red flag going up. Samsheer S E and Siddharth Mohan Naik also made the list of finalists. Curiously, China’s Zhang Yaoguang, who soared to 8.19m in Shanghai on May 13 last, did not make the grade, his best in qualifying being 7.18m on the third attempt.
Women’s 800m first round: Tintu Luka ran a typical start-to-finish effort, overcoming a mild stutter on the back straight in the second lap of the second heats to emerge the fastest in qualifying when she stopped the clock in 2:06.66. Sri Lanka’s Nimali Waliwarsha kept on her shoulders to claim the second fastest time of 2:06.93. Her team-mate Gayanthika Thushari, the oldest woman in the three heats, used the pace the India’s Lili Das set in the first lap and a half to win the third heats in 2:06.95. Archana Adhav, 21, won her first heats to ensure that all three Indians would feature in the half-mile final.
Women’s 100m hurdles: South Korea’s AAC silver medallist Jung Hye-Lim, 30, came up with an easy 13.16-second run to convey to favourites Hitomi Shimura, bronze medallist at AAC 2015 and 2013 champion Ayako Kimura (Japan) and China’s Wang Dou that they would have to be at their best in the final. Jung Hye-Lim, who had a sub-12 time at home in June, had won the AAC silver in Kobe six years ago. Anastasiya Pilipenko (Kazkahtsan), silver medallist last time, crusied home in 13.62 in the fast first heat.
Heptathlon (after two events): Swapna Barman crossed the bar at 1.86m – 0.2cm more than the AAC2017 high jump gold medal winner Nadiya Dusanova (Uzbekistan) on Friday to take the lead in the competition after two events. The Indian added a whopping 1054 points to her 100m hurdles effort worh 980 points to take her tally to 2034, ahead of Japan’s Meg Hemphill (1900) and her own team-mate Purnima Hembram (1881). Interestingly, both Purnima and Swapna came up with better times – 13.75 and 13.99 respectively – in the 100m hurdles than Nayana James’ 14.45 in the specialists’ event.