Jakarta: Reigning Asian champion Neeraj Chopra lived up to his billing with the men’s javelin gold at the 18th Asian Games as ace shuttler P.V. Sindhu created history by becoming the first Indian to book a place in the finals of the women’s singles on Monday.
Neeraj threw 88.06 metres in his third attempt to clinch gold with a national record, India’s second medal in the event in the history of the Games. Gurtej Singh had taken a bronze at the 1982 edition in New Delhi.
Liu Qizhen took silver for China with a personal best of 82.22m. Pakistan’s Arshad Nadeem was a surprise finisher at the bronze medal position.
Languishing at the fifth position till late in the competition, the Pakistani was initially struggling to get past the 75 metre mark. But he hit 80.75m with his fourth attempt which put him on the podium.
“I could have crossed 90m today but I was repeatedly getting too much height in my throws. But I am happy with my performance,” Neeraj said later.
“My next target is wining gold at the Diamond League Final which starts on September 13,” he added.
Sindhu defeated her Japanese opponent Akane Yamaguchi 21-17, 15-21, 21-10 in the semi-final in a contest that lasted for one hour six minutes.
Sindhu’s senior compatriot Saina Nehwal’s hopes of making it to the finals was dashed as she lost out in the semis in straight games 17-21, 14-21 to Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying.
Nehwal, however, became the first became the first Indian to win a medal with the bronze at the Games in women’s singles. The loss, however, would have been a bit of hard bill to swallow for Nehwal as it was her 10th successive loss against Tzu Ying. Nehwal’s last win against Tzu Ying had come way back in 2013 in the Swiss Open.
“I need to be quicker and have smooth movements, lot more shots as well, to finish the rallies. Somewhere she will catch you. Every rally is a different rally with her. Most players have set pattern but she has got a variety of shots,” said Nehwal.
“She is someone who is not easy to read. Not all the coaches can read her. As a player I have tried to read but she always comes up with a new shot,” said the 28-year-old.
Sindhu also will have lots to ponder on ways to beat Tzu Ying in the final on Tuesday. Her record against her hasn’t been that great for a while now. Tzu Ying has a 9-3 win record against Sindhu and the latter’s last success against the Thai had come at the 2016 Rio games where she won in the quarters.
“It will be a difficult match but I have a strategy and hope to do well. Silver? I hope I get gold, and I know I need to work hard for that,” said Sindhu when asked about her chances.
Their last five outings since Rio has ended in favour of Tzu and the Indian will need something extra under her sleeves to get across the line in the finals.
In hockey, India rode on a hat-trick by skipper Rani Rampal to outplay Thailand 5-0 in the final Pool B match to storm in to the finals. India went into the scoring act after the first two quarters. Rampal scored in the 37th, 46th, 56th minute while Monika and Navjot Kaur struck in the 52nd and 55th minutes to post an authoritative win.