India’s Parul Chaudhary and Priti Lamba secured silver and bronze medals respectively in the women’s 3000m steeplechase, unheralded Ancy Sojan made a grand entry on the big stage with a long jump silver, while the 4x400m mixed relay team got a fortuitous upgrade to second spot, on an eventful day at the Asian Games on Monday.
With the four medals on Monday, India have so far won two gold, eight silver and six bronze in track and field events.
On a day when Parul and Priti, despite giving off their best in the gruelling steeplechase event, were left chasing the shadow of Bahrain’s Yavi Winfred Mutile, a ‘lane infringement’ by the Sri Lankan 4x400m mixed relay quartet saw India’s bronze turn to silver in a matter of minutes after the completion of the event.
The quartet of Muhammed Ajmal Variyathodi, Vithya Ramraj, Rajesh Ramesh and Subha Venkatesan clocked 3:14.34 seconds, a national record. The gold was won by Bahrain runners, who timed 3:14.02.
In the 3000m steeplechase, Parul clocked 9:27.63 seconds, which was more than nine seconds behind the Bahrain runner, who took the top podium finish in 9:18.28 seconds, a new Games record.
The previous record stood in the name of country-mate Jebet Ruth (9:31.36 sec) set during the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
Though Parul also breached the Asian Games record, it was nowhere close to her national record and personal best of 9:15.31 clocked at the World Championships in Budapest, which helped her qualify for the Paris Olympics, in August.
Compatriot Priti finished a good 16 seconds behind Parul, clocking a personal best of 9:43.32 to win the bronze in a close finish with Bahrain runner Mekonen Tigest Getent, who timed 9:43.71 seconds.
Yavi, who won the race, is the 2023 World Championships gold medallist.
While Parul is a farmer’s daughter from Iklauta village in Meerut, Priti’s father is a petrol-pump attendant at Jawan village in Haryana’s Faridabad district.
Leap of faith
In the women’s long jump, Ancy breached her personal best twice and leapt 6.63 metres to bag the silver behind Shiqi Xiong of China, whose jump of 6.73 metres helped her claim the yellow metal.
The other Indian in the fray, Shaili Singh looked crestfallen, finishing a disappointing fifth with an effort of 6.48 metres.
Ancy said she concentrated on the “process” and reaped its rewards. “(Cricketer MS) Dhoni said like that — what you’re practising, the same thing you need to do here. Concentrate on what we have to do. It’s like that.”
With inputs from PTI