Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Asian Games: Parul Choudhary, Annu Rani claim gold as India picks six medals in athletics (Ld)

Parul Choudhary and Annu Rani came up with their best at the crunch, grabbing the country’s first gold medals in women’s 5000m and javelin throw respectively in the Asian Games, helping the country make a surging run towards its best-ever medal haul in the mega event.

With Parul and Annu claiming gold medals, India bagged two gold, Mohammed Afsal and two bronze medals in athletics on Tuesday. Mohammed Afsal in men’s 800m and Tejaswin Shankar in men’s decathlon bagged the silver medals. The bronze medals were won by Praveen Chitharavel in the men’s triple jump and Vithya Ramraj in the women’s 400m hurdles.

Tuesday’s haul took India’s medal tally to 22 in athletics, setting it up for its best-ever performance with a couple of days of competitions still to go.

The stars of the day for India were two athletes who are on the opposite ends of the spectrum — Parul Choudhary who has produced her personal best a few weeks back and Annu Rani, who was struggling to produce good throws the entire season.

On Tuesday, they tapped into reserves of hidden energy as they produced late efforts to claim gold medals in their respective disciplines.

Parul Choudhary came up with her best in the last 50 metres, finding ounces of energy inside her body as she surged past Japan’s Ririka Hironaka to win India’s first gold medal in women’s 5000m at the Asian Games on Tuesday.

Parul was sixth midway through the race and then pulled ahead getting past one competitor at a time and finally surged past the Japanese opponent in the last 10 metres to take the gold medal in a timing of 15:14.75.

Hironaka finished second in 15:15.34 while Kazakhstan’s Caroline Chepkoech Kipkirui took the bronze medal in 15:25.12, her season’s best effort. India’s Ankita finished fifth in 15:33.03, which is her personal best at this distance.

Even though it was not Parul Choudhary’s best effort as she has a personal best of 15:10.69, she was still happy because this was her second race in two days. Parul had bagged a silver medal in the Women’s 3000m race on Monday.

Annu Rani was also in a similar state in the Women’s javelin throw, winning the first-ever gold medal for India in the event.

Annu says she had gone into depression as she had been able to produce her best effort throughout the year in competitions despite emerging as India’s best javelin thrower in the last few years, winning medals at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games and qualifying for the Olympics and World Athletics Championships.

But somehow, she was not able to make that last final push to claim the gold medal. On Tuesday, she produced a throw of 62.92 to claim the gold medal in the 19th Asian Games here, making the most of the conditions to produce her best effort. Sri Lanka’s Nadeesha Dilhan Hatarabage Lekamge took the silver medal with a personal best of 81.57 metres while China’s Lyu Huihui took the bronze medal with a throw of 81.28 metres.

In the decathlon, Tejaswin Shankar came up with his personal best effort and finished second with a score of 7666. China’s Sun Qihao claimed the gold medal with a total of 7816 whileJapan’s Yuma Maruyama took bronze with a total of 7568. It was a close fight for the top three positions as less than 250 points separated them.

Tejaswin won India’s first medal in decathlon since 1974 in Tehran when Vijay Singh Chauhan and Suresh Babu bagged gold and bronze medals respectively.

This is the first silver medal won by India in the decathlon in the history of the Asian Games.

It was also a day of breakthrough forP. Mohammed Afsal, who won his first medal in the Asian Games by taking silver in the men’s 800m. The 27-year-old from Kerala had twice finished seventh in the Asian Championships but found a late burst to claim his first medal in the Asian Games, finishing second behind Saudi Arabia’s Essa Ali S. Kzwani, who won the race in 1:48.05. Afsal finished second in 1:48.05 while Oman’s Husain Mohsin Husain Al Farsi took bronze in 1:48.51.

Vithya Ramraj’s attempt to break the long-existing national record in women’s 400m hurdles did not materialise as she won the bronze medal in 55.68 seconds. Vithya had clocked 55.42 seconds in the heats to equal Pt Usha’s National Record set way back in 1986 at the Asian Games in Seoul.

The six medals — two gold, two silver and two bronze — on Tuesday took to 22 India’s total total medals from athletics. Till now India has won four gold, 10 silver and eight bronze medals in athletics.

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