Asian Games: Athletics make it a golden Sunday for India (Roundup)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

GUANGZHOU - India made an euphoric start to its athletics campaign, winning two golds and one silver, while Ronjon Singh Sodhi shot the first and much-awaited gold from the ranges on a super Sunday that saw the country leap to eighth place from overnight 14th in the Asian Games medals tally.

Preeja Sreedharan and Kavita Raut finished 1-2 in the women’s 10,000m and Sudha Singh showed her resilence as she won a neck-and-neck last minute battle with China’s Jin Yuan for a gold in the 3000m steeplechase event.

It turned out to be India’s most successful day the Games, fetching three gold medals, a silver and five bronze, taking the country’s tally to 33 (5-11-17). Indian also reached the medal round in a host of other events. The men’s hockey team, which has already advanced to the semifinals, defeated Japan 3-2 and will take on Malaysia Tuesday.

China, South Korea, Japan, Iran, Hong Kong, Thailand and Chinese Taipei are the countries above India in the medals tally.

In weightlifting, Ravinder Singh and Sunil Kumar Rana won a bronze each on the opening day of the competition.

Ravinder, the gold medallist at the Delhi Commonwealth Games, defeated Muhammad Aliansyah of Indonesia 9-3 in the men’s Greco-Roman 60kg while Sunilkumar thrashed Sutep Oomchompoo of Thailand 5-0 in the 66kg Greco-Roman.

The women’s archery team — Deepika Kumari, Rimil Buriuly and Dola Banerjee — won its first ever Asian Games medal — a bronze — after being tantalisingly close to stunning world champions South Korea in the semifinals. The trio edged out Chinese Taipei 218-217 in the bronze play-off to ensure a podium finish at the Aoti Archery Range.

In tennis, Sania Mirza, who had won silver in the women’s singles in Doha, had to settle for a bronze after she lost to third-seeded Uzbek Akgul Amanmuradova 6-7(7), 3-6, 4-6 in a marathon two hours and 49 minutes.

The day began with Sodhi, a double World record holder, ending India’s gold medal drought in shooting by winning the double trap event and also helped the team bag the bronze.

Sodhi shot 47 in the final for a total of 186. Juma Dalmook Al Maktoum of UAE won the silver with a total of 182 points (138+44) and the bronze went to Hamad Ali Al Marri (136+45) of Qatar in a shoot-off after three shooters were tied for a third place.

The Indian trio of Sodhi (139), junior World Champion Asher Noria (134) and Vikran Bhatnagar (130) shot a total of 403 to win the team bronze.

The fourth gold for India came in style with Preeja (31:50.47s) and Kavita (31:51.44s) clockiing their personal best to win gold and silver in the 10,000m. Shitay Habtegebrel of Bahrain finished third in 31:53.27 secs.

Kerala girl Preeja,28, and Commonwealth Games bronze winner Kavita of Maharashtra stayed behind the pack before making a final dash to breakway and cross the finish line comfortably. It was one of those rare moments that Indian fans would savour for long. As the two stood on the podium, their eyes turned moist to the tune of the national anthem, reminding of the famous triple victory of the Indian women’s relay team at the Commonwealth Games a month back.

Sudha ended the day on a high by winning the 30000 metres steeple chase race. Sudha (9:55.67s) had worked up a comfortable lead and crusing to the finishing line when Jin (9:55.71s) came from behind at a rapid pace and looked like piping the Indian. But Sudha showed the stomach to fight and nosed ahead to cross the tape. Japan’s Minori Hayakari settled for the bronze (10:01.25s).

After losing her singles match, Sania kept herself in contention for a gold in the mixed doubles event when she and Vishnu Vardhan cruised into the final, overcoming stiff resistance from Thailand’s top seeded pair of Tamarine Tanasugarn and Sanchai Ratiwatana for a 6-3, 6-7(3), 1-0 upset.

Somdev Devvarman also remained on course for a gold with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over China’s Ze Zhang in the quarterfinal. The win has assured the Indian, of at least a bronze. Somdev, the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, next plays Japan’s Tatsuma Ito.

Somdev, later partnering Sanam Singh, entered the men’ doubles final defeating South Korea’s Jae Cho-Soong and Hyun Joon Kim 6-3, 7-5. The sixth-seeded Indians next play second-seeded Chinese Maoxin Gong and Zhe Li for the gold.

However, it was end of road for seventh-seeded Karan Rastogi who lost 2-6, 6-4, 5-7 to top seed Dennis Istomin of Uzbekistan in the quarterfinal.

Indian boxers continued to impress as Vikas Krishan and Manpreet Singh moved into the semifinals of the 60 kg and 91 kg categories. They join Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh (75 kg), Dinesh Kumar (81 kg), Suranjoy Singh (52 kg) and Paramjeet Samota (+91 kg), who have already made it to the semifinals slated for Wednesday.

Vikas defeated Chol Song Kim of North Korea 4-2 while Manpreet outclassed Zaifula Maimaiti of China 6-4.

In other athletics events, Harminder Singh (1:26.33) and Baljinder Singh (1:28.06) finished sixth and seventh in 20 km walk. In men’s 5000m final, Sunil Kumar came 8th with a timing of 14:01.76.

Filed under: Hockey, Tennis

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