Asian Athletics Championship: Sheoran, Anas, Chitra, Saroj help India bag four gold medals on Day 2 – India have swelled their tally to 14 medals with six gold, two silver and six bronze. China are a distant second with two gold and two silver.
Nirmala Sheoran (L) Muhammed Anas in action on Friday (AFP)
Nirmala Sheoran led the charge as Indian racers set the track ablaze by grabbing all four gold medals on offer on a sensational rain-soaked second day of the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships in Bhubaneswar on Friday. Haryana girl Nirmala Sheoran began the gold spree for the hosts by winning the women 400m and soon Muhammad Anas did an encore in the 400 men’s event.
Rajiv Arokia and Jisna Mathew added a silver and a bronze in men’s and women’s 400m respectively. More domination was in store for the home athletes as P U Chitra and Ajay Kumar Saroj bagged a yellow metal each in men’s and women’s 1500m race.
Women sprinter Dutee Chand, who is embroiled in a gender case, settled for a bronze in 100m. The 21-year-old Sheoran clocked 52.01 seconds and young Jisna Mathew (53.32) finish third. Vietnam’s Quach Thi was second in 52.78 seconds. Veteran Indian M R Poovamma was fourth in 53.36 seconds.
“I knew I could win on Friday but the rain and delay in the race led to slow timing. We have been waiting for long after warm up and it affected the timing. I am very happy to have done the country proud. Now my target is World Championships,” Sheoran said, exuding confidence.
Barely five minutes later, Indian men quatermilers Muhammad Anas and Rajiv Arokia finished first and second, clocking 45.77 and 46.14 seconds respectively. “It’s a dream come true. I was emotional after winning on Friday since I ran four races in two days,” said Anas.
It was then the turn of unheralded Chitra and Saroj to give India two unexpected gold in 1500m as they come triumphant with the crowd watching in disbelief. The 22-year-old Kerala girl Chitra clocked 4 minute 17.92 seconds to win the race to finish way ahead of second placed Geng Min of China (4:19.15) and Ayako Jinnouchi (4:19.90) of Japan.
“It is a surprise I have won gold. I did not expect it. I don’t know what to say. I am very happy,” said Chitra. Her male counterpart, 20-year-old Saroj completed the four-gold haul in a span of stunning 30 minutes by finishing the race in 3 minutes 45.85 seconds. It is his first major title. He was a tad slower than his personal best of 3:44.4 which he clocked in April last year.
“I will not say that I was expecting gold but I prepared my best, thinking that anything can happen. This is my first major win in a senior international event,” Ajay said.
Dutee Chand had qualified for the final round of women’s 100m dash after finishing second in the semifinals heat two with a time of 11.56 seconds while another Odisha athlete Amiya Kumar Mallick was disqualified after a false start in men’s 100m sprint. India have swelled their tally to 14 medals with six gold, two silver and six bronze. China are a distant second with two gold and two silver.