Asian Games, Day 9: India's medal tally rises to 60 after 4 medals in athletics
India's Parul Chaudhary and Priti secured silver and bronze medals respectively in the women's 3000m steeplechase, unheralded Ancy Sojan made a grand entry on the big stage with a long jump silver, while the 4x400m mixed relay team got a fortuitous upgrade to second spot due to 'lane infringement', on an eventful day at the Asian Games in China's Hangzhou on Monday (October 2).
At the end of Day 9 of the Asian Games, India has won 60 medals (13 gold, 24 silver, 23 bronze). India is in the fourth spot in the medals table. China is on top with 270 medals (147 gold, 81 silver, 42 bronze).
On a day when Parul and Priti, despite giving off their best in the gruelling steeplechase event, were left chasing the shadow of Bahrain's Yavi Winfred Mutile, a 'lane infringement' by the Sri Lankan 4x400m mixed relay quartet saw India's bronze turn to silver in a matter of minutes after the completion of the event.
The Indian quartet had earlier finished third on the podium behind Sri Lanka.
In 3000m steeplechase, Parul clocked 9:27.63 seconds, which was more than nine seconds behind the Bahrain runner, who took the top podium finish in 9:18.28 seconds, a new Games record.
The previous record stood in the name of country-mate Jebet Ruth (9:31.36 sec) set during the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
Though Parul also breached the Asian Games record, it was nowhere close to her national record and personal best of 9:15.31 clocked at the World Championships in Budapest, which helped her qualify for the Paris Olympics, in August.
Compatriot Priti finished a good 16 seconds behind Parul, clocking a personal best of 9:43.32 seconds to win the bronze in a close finish with Bahrain runner Mekonen Tigest Getent, who timed 9:43.71 seconds.
Yavi began to pull away in the sixth lap of the gruelling race, even as Parul faded out.
The Kenyan-born Bahrain runner, who won the 2023 World Athletics Championships gold in the event beating country-mate Beatrice Chepkoech, finished at least 50 metres ahead of the 28-year-old Parul.
A farmer's daughter from Iklauta village in Meerut, Paul has been the top Indian woman steeplechaser in the last few years. She is an accidental athlete, taking up the sport when her father told her to participate in a school race without any preparation.
She won the 800m race barefoot and thus began the journey in athletics.
Daughter of petrol pum attendant
Priti, the daughter of a petrol pump attendant at Jawan village in Faridabad district of Haryana, said it was a dream come true for her as well as her father Jagbir Lamba.
"My father works at a petrol pump and earns around Rs 10,000 a month. He said he wants to see me win an Asian Games (medal) before he dies. Today, his dream and my dream is fulfilled," Priti said after winning the bronze medal.
"When I called up after winning the bronze, he was crying." Priti added she ran a tactical race on Monday.
"The gold-medal winner is world champion and I admit Parul is stronger than me. So, I did not try to be with them (the leading group). I thought if I do that I might feel tightness towards the end. So, I was running at my own (pace) to get the bronze medal."
In women's long jump, Ancy breached her personal best twice and leapt 6.63 metres to bag the silver behind Shiqi Xiong of China, whose jump of 6.73 metres helped her claim the yellow metal.
Vietnam's Nga Yan Yue won the bronze with a best effort of 6.50 metres.
In the third attempt, Ancy registered her personal best of 6.56 metres, which she bettered in her fifth attempt.
The other Indian in the fray, Shaili Singh looked crestfallen, finishing a disappointing fifth with an effort of 6.48 metres. Such was Shaili's -- the U-20 World Championships silver medallist -- plight that she looked on the verge of an emotional meltdown before her last two attempts.
Shaili gave it her all but it was Ancy's day and she celebrated it by wrapping the tri-colour around her soon after winning the silver.
Ancy said she concentrated on the "process" and reaped its rewards today.
"When we come to a competition, everyone is worried about the result. But result comes after... first we need to do the processes (right)," said Ancy.
"(Cricketer MS) Dhoni said like that -- what you're practising, the same thing you need to do here. Concentrate on what we have to do. It's like that.
"I knew my faults, and I knew that I had to give more power at the take-off -- and that's what I did. Processes work, and after that is the result. My next aim is the Olympics and breaking seven-metre mark, which no Indian woman has done. This is my first international medal," she added.
The quartet of Muhammed Ajmal Variyathodi, Vithya Ramraj, Rajesh Ramesh and Subha Venkatesan clocked 3:14.34 seconds in mixed team 4x400m relay to win a bronze medal. But, to their joy, the Sri Lankan quartet -- which had beaten the favourites to the second spot by a fraction of a second with a time of 3:14.25 seconds -- was disqualified due to 'lane infringement' The gold was won by Bahrain runners, who timed 3:14.02. Following the upgrade, Kazakhstan, who had finished fourth, bagged the bronze, clocking a season's best of 3:24.85 seconds.
The Indian quartet bettered the national mark of 3:14.70 seconds recorded in July this year.
During the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games as well, India had finished second in the 4x400m mixed relay race but later upgraded to gold after the original winners Bahrain were stripped of the title as one of their runners failed a dope test.
With the four medals on Monday, India have so far won two gold, eight silver and six bronze in track and field events.
In men's 200m, India's Amlan Borgohain finished a distant sixth in 20.98 seconds.
The gold was won by Japan's Koki Ueyama in 20.60 seconds, which was way below the Asian Games record of 20.14 seconds set in Incheon by Qatar's Femi Ogunode.
Saudi Arabia's Mohammed Abdullah Abkar clinched the silver medal with a time of 20.63, while the bronze went to Chinese Taipei's Yang Chun-Han who clocked 20.74 seconds.
(With agency inputs)