| K.M. Beenu after winning silver in the 800m in Busan Wednesday. (AFP)
Busan, Oct. 9: At last, K.M. Beenu has an identity of his own. He will henceforth be famous as the 2002 Asian Games 800m silver-medallist, not for being K.M. Beenamol’s younger brother.
The shy young man from Thiruvanantapuram found the right stage to make an impression here at the Asiad Main Stadium Wednesday. The 23-year-old had promised a medal Tuesday when he ran a career-best 1:47.63 in the first round.
Twenty-four hours later, when it mattered most, the Southern Railway employee produced an even better performance to clock 1:47.57. It wasn’t good enough to match Bahrain’s Rashid Mohamed (1:47.12), but the silver was Beenu’s.
Greeted by Beenamol with a warm embrace at the waiting room, Beenu got a soft rebuke too. “Why did you sprint from 200 metres away, you should have started from 100. You could have got gold then,” Beenamol analysed the finish as photograpahers and reporters jostled to catch this family union.
Like an obedient little brother, Beenu agreed with Beenamol. “Yes, I did make a tactical mistake which perhaps cost me gold. It was due to inexperience, won’t repeat it in the future.”
He ran a perfect race till the first 600 metres, staying behind the pacesetters before catching up with the pack of four. The acceleration came a bit too early, enabling the Bahrain athlete to pass him on the home stretch and finish well clear.
Beenu, on the other hand, was a comfortable second. Chinese Li Huiquan, who beat him in the first round, couldn’t catch up with the Indian Wednesday and had to settle for bronze in 1:47.77.
“It’s a great feeling,” said the soft-spoken Beenu. “My sister got the 800 gold last afternoon after running the 400 first round in the morning. She inspired me to give it my all.” It was easily the high point in Beenu’s nascent career. A gold and a silver at the recent Asian Grand Prix meets pale into insignificance in comparison to the Asian Games silver.
Purakkotte Ramachandran finished beyond medal timing in the men’s 400m final. In a fast-paced race, the Indian came in fifth at 46.15 seconds.
Kuwaiti Fawzi Al Shammari beat off a strong challenge from Saudi Arabia’s Hamdan Al Bishi to take gold. His 44.93 equalled Qatari Ibrahim Ismail Muftah’s Games record set eight years ago in Hiroshima.
Al Bishi, who trains under Maurice Greene’s coach John Walton Smith (junior) in the US, was favourite going into the 400 final. But a lethargic start left him with too much to make up in the end. Sri Lankan Rohan Handunpurage pipped Japanese Masayoki Okusako for the bronze.
The Chinese, rather quiet on the first two days, captured three gold medals — women’s pole vault, women’s shot put and men’s 110m hurdles.
Gao Shuying cleared 4.35 metres to set a Games record in women’s pole vault. The earlier mark belonged to fellow-Chinese Cai Weiyan (4.00 in Bangkok). The next three also bettered the previous mark with silver going to Japanese Masumi Ono (4.10) and bronze to Chinese Qin Xia (4.00).
The shot put was won by Meiju Li with a heave of 18.62. Korean Myung Sun Lee (18.50) was second and Thai Juthaporn Krasaeyan a distant third (17.53).
The meet record fell also in the 110 hurdles with Lu Xiang clocking 13.27 seconds. Satoru Tanigawa of Japan got silver for his 13.83 and Korean Park Tae-Kyong bronze for his effort of 13.89.
Saraswati in 200 final
Saraswati Saha, who looked out of sorts in the 100m final Tuesday, kicked off her campaign in the more preferred longer sprint with a heat-winning time of 23.51 seconds. She was the fastest qualifier for Thursday’s final.
“I was more confident today. Hopefully I’ll pick up a medal,” Saraswati said later. “Susanthika (Jayasinghe) is a great runner, her advantage is her experience at this level.”
Susanthika, who ran in the other semi-final, didn’t exert at all as she came in second in 23.59. She pulled back in the last five metres, holding her thigh, and let Kazakh Viktoriya Kovyreva pass her.
Anand Menezes failed to make the men’s 200 final. He crossed the first hurdle at 21.53 — as one of the three fastest losers. In the semi-finals, he managed 21.77 and came in last. Anuradha Biswal’s 13.49 was good enough to take her to Thursday’s women’s 110m hurdles final.