BHUBANESWAR: Indian teenager Neeraj Chopra’s new Asian Championship javelin throw record, the distance double gold medal winning efforts by Govindan Lakshmanan (India) and Dariya Maslova (Kyrghistan) and India’s two 1600m relay titles brought a touch of class and emotion to the closing night of the 22nd Asian Athletics Championship on Sunday.
Here’s an account of the 13 events that were decided on the final day of competition:
Men’s 200m final: Chinese-Taipei’s Yang Chun-Han, 20, who qualified for the final as a fastest ‘loser’ in the semifinals, showed that he could sustain his explosive energy the longest – and when it mattered – to clock 20.66 seconds for a worthy gold ahead of South Korean Park Bonggo (20.76) and Qatar’s defending champion Femi Seun Onugode (20.79). It did not seem to matter to him that he was drawn on the eighth lane as he kept the Qatari next to him in sight. Once the bunch hit the home straight, with the South Korean in the lead and China’s Bie Ge hot in his pursuit, it was a matter of who would lose pace slowly. It was here that the Chinese-Taipei youngster scored over everyone else. Amiya Kumar Mallick found some consolation in clocking a personal best of 21.03 in finishing seventh.
Men’s 800m final: Asian Grand Prix winner Ebrahim R Alzofairi (Kuwait) hung in not far from the front running Mohammed Nasser Abbas (Qatar) for a lap and more but powered ahead over the final 100m to win gold in 1:49.47. India’s Jinson Johnson, boxed between the two on the home stretch, was unable to prevent the other Qatari Jamal Hairane from sprinting on the outside to claim silver. He managed to keep Nasser Abbas at bay to take a deserving bronze in 1:50.07, the season’s best time for him.
Men’s 10000m final: India’s Govindan Lakshmanan claimed a fantastic distance double, adding the 10000m gold to the one he won in 5000m two nights ago. Yet again, he showed the finishing kick that saw him surge ahead of Kyrghistan’s Adilet and team-mate Gopi Thonakal with more than 300m left. Gopi staved off a challenge by the younger Kyrghistan athlete to take silver in a race in which the Chinese Danmuzhen Cii Wang and Qi Zhenfei lost touch with the top three well into the 25-lapper.
Men’s 4x400m relay final: The India quartet of Kunju Mohammed, Amoj Jacob, Muhammad Anas and Arokia Rajiv packed too many punches for the rest of the field and cruised him to gold in 3:02.92. Sri Lanka sought to keep pace with the Indians but Anas, fielded in the third leg rather than as anchor, opened up a lead that left none in any doubt. Sri Lanka (3:04.80) claimed silver from Thailand (3:06.48)
Men’s long jump final: The fact that his compatriot Zhang Yaohgan did not get past qualification seemed to have no effect on China’s Huang Chanzhou, an Olympic Games finalist in Rio last year. After warming up to competition with 7.83m to lead the opening round, he found Hong Kong’s Chan Ming Tai stealing leadership position with 7.91m in the second round. The Chinese gave his third jump his all and soared to 8.09m that kept him on top through the rest of the final. Chang Ming Tai mustered two leaps over eight meters but fell short of securing him the lead. Japan’s Shotaro Shiroyama had three fouls and managed to get as close as three centimeters to the eight-meter mark, Ankit Sharma finished fourth with 7.83m that he secured on his second jump.
Men’s javelin throw final: What a high-voltage competition it turned out to be, with Indian teenager winning gold with his last throw over 85.23m in a show which made it seem that he was innocent of the adverse effects of pressure. With his mind focused sharply on the task on hand, he ran up and sent the javelin soaring into the night sky. The entire Kalinga Stadium willed the spear to fly farther than it had all night to convert his bronze medal place to a fantastic gold. Qatar’s 20-year-old Ahmed Bader Magour led the competition with a throw of 83.70m on his fourth attempt and seemed set to take gold home from under Neeraj Chopra and Davinder Singh Kang’s noses. Neeraj Chopra delivered when it mattered the most on a night when 11 throws went past 80m mark.
Women’s 200m final: Viktoriya Zyabkina (Kazakhstan) completed a stunning hat-trick of 200m gold medals at the Asian Championships by winning the 200m final on Sunday evening in 23.10 seconds, showing 21-year-old Sri Lankan Rumeshika Kumari Rathnayake a clean pair of heels; The young Sri Lankan, fastest in qualifying, fought hard and managed to stay ahead of the other Kazakh Olga Safronova to take silver in 23.43 seconds. India’s Dutee Chand came up with her season’s best of 23.59 to take fourth place ahead of team-mate Srabani Nanda, a bronze medallist in 2015.
Women’s 800m final: The disqualification of 21-year-old Archana Adhav saw Sri Lankans Nimali Wirawasha and Gayanthika Thushari claim gold and silver in a dramatic final. After favourite and defending champion Tintu Luka, leading at the bell, pulled out with exhaustion after 500m, it was left to Archana Adhav’s steely determination to challenge the Sri Lankans. Asian Grand Prix winner in Taipei earlier this year, Gayanthika pushed into the lead just after the first lap but spent much energy in doing that. Nimali took the lead on the back straight and Archana, bronze medallist in the Asian junior championship three years ago, made her move on the home stretch, passing Japan’s Fumika Omoro and catching up with the Sri Lankans. There was some drama in the final 40m or so, leading officials to spend time looking at replays before announcing the result of the race, first with the Indian as winner and later disqualifying her.
Women’s 10000m final: The women’s 5000m champion Dariya Maslova (Kyrghistan) completed a double by winning the grueling 25-lapper as well in 32:21.21, pulling away from the two Japanese Yuka Hori (32:23.26) and Mizuki Matsuda (32:46.61). Indians Loganathan Suriya and Sanjivani Jadhav, who won 5000m bronze two nights ago, tried gamely but the endurance of Daria Maslova and the Japanese pair proved too much for them on a humid evening.
Women’s 4x400m relay final: India, served by Debashee Mazumdar (standing in admirably for Tintu Luka who was running fever) , M R Poovamma, Jisna Mathew and Asian champion Nirmala Sheoran, ran out a comfortable winner in 3:31.34. Vietnam (3:33.22) and Japan (3:37.74) took silver and bronze.
Women’s pole vault final: The 28-year-old Asian record holder and defending champion Li Ling (China) headlined the small field of six vaulters and perhaps was hoping to have it easy. She conceded defeat by teenaged compatriot Chen Qiaoling, who cleared 4.40m on her first attempt. Li Ling cleared 4.20m effortlessly to ensure herself of silver medal since the only two competitors who were able to clear that height were both Chinese. Li Ling passed vault attempts at 4.30m and 4.40m – some may call it bravado – but she appeared confident that she would succeed in 4.50m. As her luck would have it, she fouled twice and gave up. Thailand’s Chayanisa Chomchuendee won bronze at 4.10m.
Women’s discus throw final: China’s Olympic finalist Chen Yang’s opening throw of 60.41m was good to get her gold but her team-mate, Lu Xiaoxing was unable to touch the 56m mark. Her best of 55.27m had to take the backseat to the two 56m-plus throws that Thailand’s former Asian junior champion Subenrat Insaeng managed. India’s 21-year-old Kamalpreet Kaur Bal (54.32) finished fifth behind Chinese-Taipei’s Li Tsai-Yi (54.48) and ahead of 33-year-old Seema Antil (54.11).
Heptathlon (final): Swapna Barman justified the seletcors’ decision not to field her in high jump – where she could have pushed for and perhaps got gold – but struck gold in the arduous heptathlon. With a narrow lead to protect going into the final race, the challenging 800m, the 20-year-old stuck to the simple strategy of being in 21-year-old Meg Hemphill’s slipstream. She was barely 0.18 seconds behind the Japanese at the finish to secure gold with a personal best tally of 5942 points. Purnima Hembram, whose javelin throw result let her down, tried gamely but had to settle for third place with 5798 points. The three of them secured season best times in the 800m and were left exhausted after two tiring but rewarding days’ work.