The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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A gold each from track and field
- Indian athletes strike it rich l Soma Biswas misses heptathlon title by a whisker

Busan: It’s not often that keeping track of Indian medal-winners at a major international competition gets difficult. It was pleasantly different at the Asiad Main Stadium Tuesday.

The national anthem was played twice. With a little more luck, it could have been heard a third time as well, but Ranaghat girl Soma Biswas fell just short. A haul of two gold, silver and bronze medals each on Day II of athletics was almost too good to believe.

Shot-putter Bahadur Singh Sagoo set the ball rolling, beating Qatari Bilalsaad Mubarak and fellow-Indian Shakti Singh with his only legal throw of 19.03 metres.

K.M. Beenamol came from behind to snatch victory from Madhuri Saxena in women’s 800m. And then, Soma missed out on the heptathlon gold by a mere 12 points. J.J. Shobha bagged the bronze.

Trailing Chinese Shen Shengfei by 129 points and Shobha by 80 going into the last of seven events, Soma ran the race of her life to win the 800m by a mile. Her 2:11.02 was worth 950 points, which took her final tally to 5899.

Shen managed just 809 but it was good enough for gold as she tallied 5911. Shobha ran a slow 800 to finish with 5870.

Tactical Beenamol

Beenamol was the favourite in 800m but was kept on her toes by Madhuri who has the best time among Indians this year. Madhuri took over from the early leaders just short of the first lap. She held her lead till about 700m when Beenamol raced past the rest.

Beenamol, in fact, ran an astute and tactical race. More at home over the shorter version, she held herself back and hung around at fifth place for much of the race. She surged forward on the home stretch in smooth long strides to pip Madhuri to the gold comfortably.

“The coach told me to run to my strength, so I accelerated only towards the end,” Beenamol revealed. “I knew Madhuri also had a chance so I had to finish strongly.” Having concentrated on the 400 in recent years, it was only a few months back that she was advised to practise 800 for the Asian Games.

“I followed instructions and was rewarded today. I owe it to the federation and my coach,” Beenamol said.

All in the mind

The youngest and least famous of the three Bahadur Singhs of Indian athletics, the 30-year-old shot-putter never had it so good in life. “I have been failing at the big arena because of inadequate mental strength,” he admitted.

“Today I have overcome that shortcoming to win my first big medal. I am delighted,” said Bahadur.

His first heave was illegal, the second travelled 19.03 metres. The next four efforts were all fouls. “It was a difficult day. The circle was rough, it didn’t give any rhythm on my movement. Otherwise I could have done at least 19.50,” said the Punjab Police strong man.

Saudi Arabia’s Mubarak, who achieved 18.98 at first go, won silver. Shakti, second at the 1998 Games, had three legal attempts but couldn’t clear more than 18.27. The Indian was tied with Ahmad Gholoum but his second-best throw (18.16) was better than the Kuwaiti’s (18.05).

Saraswati flops in 100

There was no joy for Saraswati Saha who got outclassed in the 100m final. Off to a slow start from lane 1, the Bengal girl struggled to keep pace with the field and came in seventh at 11.59 seconds. It was hardly better than her semi-final timing of 11.61.

In hammer throw, Pramod Tiwari was sixth with a best of 64.54m in a field of nine.

P. Ramachandran qualified for men’s 400m final. He clocked 47.42 in the first race. Paramjeet Singh missed out after coming home in 47.50.

K. Beenu, Beenamol’s younger brother, was impressive in the 800m first round. He qualified for the final with a second-best timing of 1:47.63.

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