The ambience was electric. So was the performance.
There was a medal rush by the Indians at the Commonwealth Games here on Tuesday and for a brief moment, one almost lost count.
A gold by the women's mile relay team and four bronze medals marked the concluding day of track and field action at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. The bronze medals came from triple jumper Renjith Maheswary, javelin thrower Kashinath Naik, both in the men's section, and from both the sprint relay teams.
What India could not achieve in more than fifty years at the Commonwealth Games, it managed to do in just five magical days in Delhi. India had won just nine track and field medals at the Games, starting with Milkha Singh's gold in 1958 before Delhi, but now, with only the marathon to go on Thursday, we already have 12 medals, including two golds.
“It's unbelievable, I've never seen some of the girls run like this before,” said P.T. Usha, after watching the 4x400 relay women win the gold.
Ashwini Chidananda, a hurdler, ran the race of her life to overtake Nigerian Dammy Abogunloko and gave India the lead midway through the third leg. Mandeep Kaur, the anchor, continued the good work to give the host its second gold of these Games and its first-ever relay gold in the Games history. Manjeet Kaur and Sini Jose ran the first two legs.
“We're very happy, we were sure of the bronze, the gold is a big surprise,” said Mandeep after the golden run which was timed at 3:27.77s. “Our baton exchange was very good.”
Ashwini's confidence was a notch higher. “We expected to win the gold. We knew we'd win if we beat Nigeria. And we did.”
The medals were so quick in coming, five of them in around two hours, that the nearly 45,000 spectators at the stadium were left dazed in pure joy.
H.M. Jyothi was dazed too after leading the women's 4x100m relay team to the bronze, its first sprint relay medal in the Games' history. Our short sprinters have often been so poor in quality that the country sometimes doesn't even field teams at the Commonwealth Games.
But today, with S. Geetha, Srabani Nanda, P.K. Priya and Jyothi on track, it was a different day.
“I asked Geetha whether this is all a dream,” said Jyothi, from Karnataka. “I couldn't believe it. I was unwell.”
But it could have been a silver but Ghana's Janet Amposah, with a smart dip at the tape, denied India the honour.
Meanwhile, the men's sprint relay team did one better. The quartet of M. Rahamatunna, Sathya Suresh, Shameermon and Abdul Najeeb Qureshi not only won the bronze but also broke the national record, their second in as many days.
“We believed in ourselves,” said Shameermon. “Yesterday, the baton exchange was not good. We worked on that today and it paid off.”
The team clocked 38.89 secs, they had clocked 39 secs on Monday night.
There was plenty of action on the field too. Former Asian champion Renjith Maheswary was jumping for joy after his career-best 17.07m effort in the third round of the men's triple jump which won him the bronze.
That effort broke Renjith's own national record of 17.04 m. The 24-year-old upset former European runner-up Douglas Nathan (England, PB 17.64) and Grenada's Randy Lewis (PB 17.49) on his way with a massive third-round jump.
Around the same time, Kashinath won the men's javelin bronze with a fifth round throw of 74.29.
Keywords: Commonwealth Games