BHUBANESWAR: South Korea’s Bonggo Park on Sunday led a semi-final race in such commanding fashion that his pace (20.91 seconds) fuelled the Philippines Trenten Anthony and India’s Amiya Kumar Mallick as well into the final of the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships at the Kalings Stadium as the two fastest ‘lucky losers’.
China’s Bie Ge (20.95) and Kazakhstan’s Vladislav Grigory, who won the first heats, were two other runners who dipped in under 21 seconds. Defending champion Femi Seun Onugode (Qatar), smarting from the defeat in the 100m final, was third in that blisteringly quick semifinals and will have to find the rhythm to return with another gold.
Here’s how the other events of the morning session on the final day panned out:
Men’s 4x400m relay semifinals: India showed that it will be the team to beat with a time of 3:06.96 in the semifinal heats, when it was hardly challenged. Chinese Taipei sought to up the ante in an attempt to score psychological points but settled down to finish second in 3:08.35. Kazakhstan and South Korea were the other teams to make the grade from the first heats. Sri Lanka won the second semifinal in 3:09.06 ahead of Thailand and Oman. Pakistan qualified for the final as one of the two fastest ‘losers’.
Women’s 200m semifinals: Sri Lanka’s 21-year-old Rumeshika Kumari came up with a blistering run in the second heats to emerge the fastest qualifier in 23.72 seconds, leaving Kazakhstan’s Viktoriya Zyabinka (23.49) in her wake. Olga Safronova raised visions of another Kazakh 1-2 with a 23.67 effort in the third semifinal heats in which India’s Dutee Chand finished second in 23.84. Srabani Nanda became the first of the two Indians to enter the final when she won her semifinal heats from China’s Lin Huijun in 24.01 seconds.
Heptathlon (after long jump): With a leap of 6.06m, 21-year-old Japanese Meg Hemphill, slipped past Purnima Hembram to second place and got to within 24 points of Swapna Barman. The overnight leader put her best foot forward and came up with her first 6m jump this season to ensure that the Japanese would not get too close for comfort on the points table. Lisky Joseph, the third Indian in the fray, had the best jump in the competition – a 6.19m effort but that was good enough for her only to increase her lead over fifth-placed Eri Utsnomiya of Japan.
Heptathlon (after javelin throw): Swapna Barman (India) gained some cushion with a throw of 45.03 metres and enhanced her lead over Japan’s Meg Hemphill to 61 points with a total of 5066 points. Unable to breach the 40m mark, Purnima Hembram allowed the gap between the Japanese and her to widen to 83 points. Yet, it with just the 800m final to be run, the heptathlon competition is as intense as it could get.