Jakarta: India’s Manjit Singh set the track on fire by bagging gold with a timing of 1:46.15 in the men’s 800m at the 18th Asian Games on Tuesday.
Silver was claimed by Singh’s compatriot Jinson Johnson after clocking 1:46.35 to finish ahead of third-placed Qatar’s Abu Baker Abdullah.
“I had thought about pacing it in the initial race and go all out in the last 100m,” said a jubilant Singh, who hails from Haryana. “There was no discussion, everyone has their own strategy so I had my own. I had hoped to win, because I was preparing for it. The amount of hard work I had put in, paid off today.
“I have been in Delhi for the last one-and-half-years. First I was in Ooty where the national camp was being held. For the last two-three months, I was training in Bhutan.”
The 29-year-old said he would review recordings of his previous losses to motivate himself. “I would watch those videos again and again and see where I was lacking and even my positive points,” he said. “In the heats, I had finished second with 1:48.64. I watched that too and learnt where I was going wrong.”
Johnson, who hails from India’s state of Kerala that is reeling following the catastrophe of the recent floods, dedicated his victory to all the people involved in the rescue work.
“I’m very happy. This is a major medal in my career. I have already won a silver and bronze in Asian Championship but this one is my first in Asian Games. I would like to dedicate this medal to all the Kerala people who worked against flood,” he added.
India bagged second spot in mixed 4x400m Relay with their team comprising Mohammad Anas Yahiya, Poovamma Machettira, Hima Das and Arokiarajiv with a time of 3:15.71. After the race, India has launched an official protest claiming obstruction by a Bahraini runner during Hema’s baton exchange. The hearing will be on Wednesday morning.
In kurash, an event similar to judo and jiu-jitsu, Pincky Balhara and Malaprabha Yallappa Jadhav handed India another two medals — a silver and bronze, respectively, in women’s 52kg event.
While Balhara lost to Uzbekistan’s Gulnor Sulaymanova 10-0 in the final round, Jadhav had conceded a 10-0 defeat to the same opponent in the semi-final of the event.
Nineteen-year-old Balhara, who switched from judo to kurash for the Asian Games, lost within seconds to firm favourite Sulaymanova in the gold medal clash.
Balhara earlier defeated Tsou Chiawen of Chinese Taipei 5-0 in Round of 16 before getting the better of Susanti Terry Kusumawardani of Sri Lanka 3-0 in the quarter-finals. She beat Abdumajidova Oysuluv of Uzbekistan 1-0 in the last four stage. Jadhav lost to Sulaymanova 10-0 in the semi-final to claim the bronze as both the semi-finalists were assured of medals.
In fact, Balhara, who hails from Neb Sarai Village in Delhi’s Hauz Khas always wanted to come to the Jakarta as a judoka, but she had a second place finish at the trials, and by that time she was already picked up in the kurash team after topping its qualifers.
“I didn’t know that one player could represent in one sport only. I never thought of winning a medal here instead I was sure of winning a medal in judo, if I had been selected in the team. But luck didn’t favour me and I finished second in the trials,” said Balhara, who trains at the Baba Ganganath Judo Academy in Munirka, Delhi. “I feel now feel that it was God’s decision. After making it to the finals, I wanted to win gold as seeing India’s tricolour flying high is always a great achievement to me.”
India’s compound archery teams lost in their gold medal contests to South Korea. Defending champions India’s team comprising Abhishek Verma, Rajat Chauhan and Aman Saini had a one-point edge at the end of four sets but a review gave South Korea one more point and the contest was forced into a shootout with scores tied at 229-229.
The Koreans bagged gold as their 10 was the closest to bull’s eye after both teams had managed a 10 and a 9. India had won over Korea in a similar situation four years back in Incheon.
Despite the setback, India archer Chauhan, who won his second medal at the Asian Games, was not upset as his biggest task this year had been accomplished. The 24-year-old had cleared his class 12 exam on his fifth attempt and nothing was more relieving than that.
“In India, people still want you to be educated as they feel sports won’t take you anywhere. It is still taken very seriously in my family. More than that, the fact I have cleared after so many attempts gives me a lot of satisfaction,” said Chauhan smiling.
In the women’s event, the Indian team comprising Muskan Kirar, Madhumita Kumari and Jyothi Surekha Vennam, lost 228-231 to Korea to pocket silver.