| The victorious Indian 4x400m relay team of (from left) Jincy Philips, Manjeet Singh, Soma Biswas and K.M. Beenamol in Busan Sunday
Busan: The news of Sunita Rani’s positive dope test still hadn’t filtered through to the athletes’ waiting room. The Indians were very much in the thick of action and once again went on a medal-grabbing spree.
One gold, two silver and one bronze from four of the seven finals they contested in made it a pleasing last day at the athletics competition here at the Asiad Main Stadium.
The 4x400 women’s relay team, powered by a brilliant third leg from heptathlon silver-medallist Soma Biswas, coasted to gold in 3:30.84 ahead of Kazakhstan (3:31.72) and China (3:32.43).
K.M. Beenamol consolidated the advantage in a flying finish. Jincy Philips had got off to a sluggish start and it was Manjeet Singh who put India ahead in a close second leg.
The 4x400 men’s quartet — P. Ramachandran, Manoj Lal, Satbir Singh and Bhupendra Singh — did well to shrug off an ordinary effort in the middle to pocket silver. It was Bhupendra’s quick anchor leg which helped the Indians (3:04.22) pip Sri Lanka (3:04.37) to third position. Saudi Arabia captured gold in 3:02.47.
Bobby Aloysius cleared 1.88 metres to earn silver jointly with Kazakh Marina Korzhova in the women’s high jump. Kyrgyzstan’s Tatiana Efimenko sealed gold with her first attempt of 1.90.
“I could have done 1.90,” said Bobby who had trained six months in Russia with the Asian Games in mind. “There was so much noise being made by the fans behind us that it was difficult for all of us to concentrate.
Under the circumstances, I am happy to have done 1.88. The moment I cleared 1.84, I knew I had a medal. Silver is quite good for me.”
Anil Kumar led after four rounds but had to settle for bronze in men’s discus as Chinese Wu Tao (60.76) and Iranian Abbas Samimi (60.44) surged ahead on the home stretch. Anil’s best was 59.81, on his second heave. He still had four tries left to go over 60 metres but just didn’t succeed.
Saraswati Saha couldn’t add to her 200m gold as the women’s 4x100 team came in fifth at 44.74. Saraswati, who ran the anchor despite a nagging lower back pain, gave it her all in a pursuit for bronze but too much of a gap had already been created after V. Jayalashmi’s stuttering start. Vinita Tripathy and Anuradha Biswal couldn’t stem the rot in the middle legs.
The Chinese clocked 43.64 to claim gold while Thailand came a distant second (44.25).
The Thais couldn’t be denied gold in the 4x100 men’s event. Reanchal Seeharwong, Vissanu Sophanich, Ekkachal Janthana and Sitticai Suwonprteep paced themselves superbly to finish in a Games record timing of 38.82. Japan took silver with 38.90 while China took bronze in 39.09. The Indians — Sanjay Ghosh, Piyush Kumar, Anand Menezes and K.P. Anil were fourth in 39.36.
The toast of the day was the 4x400 foursome.
Gold-medallists at last month’s Colombo ATF meet, the Indians were favourites going into the final. But there were a few doubts also, not the least because these four were running together for the first time.
The anxiety took firm root as Jincy ran gingerly to lag behind Chinese Qin Wanping and Kazakh Tatyana Roslanova at the first baton-change. The pressure was on Manjeet to make up lost ground and the Punjab girl didn’t disappoint. She strode past the Chinese and Kazakh to establish a two-metre lead. A jittery Soma just about got hold of the baton but ran like a true champion.
The heptathlon silver-medallist widened the gap with Kazakh Netalya Torshina and was a clear five metres in front when Beenamol took over. All she had to do was maintain the tempo and keep the lead. She did that with ease as India ran out comfortable winners.
“Two golds and a silver is a wonderful result for me... I have no regrets for missing the 400 gold,” said India’s only multiple champion of the Busan Games.
North Korea’s moment
The North Korean supporters, who had been playing a band and beating drums in anticipation of the women’s marathon gold, had their dream realised at 12.34 pm sharp. The stadium erupted in deafening applause as little Ham Pong Sil entered the stadium at the end of a gruelling 42km route.
Her timing of 2 hours, 33.35 minutes was well short of the meet best, but Ham could hardly bother. Two Japanese finished behind the North Korean. Harumi Hiroyama (2:34.44) got silver and Hiromi Ominami (2:37.48) bronze.
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