Joseph Abraham lived up to his promise, winning the silver in the 400-metre hurdles on the fourth day of the 18th Asian athletics championships here on Friday.
It was India’s eighth medal in the meet and before a bitterly-cold night’s programme ended, woman discus thrower Krishna Poonia added a bronze to the tally. India was fourth in the standings, with a day to go. China’s domination of the past three days was dented a little by Japan, which took five of the 11 gold medals down for decision.
There were a few close misses for India, but the most shattering experience was the eclipse of Tintu Luka in the women’s 800 metres.
Unable to match the ‘kick’ that others came up with on the home straight, Luka finished sixth in 2:07.61.
Abraham ran a near-faultless race. If being on the outermost lane (8) was a disadvantage since he had no idea where the others were, the 28-year-old made light of it. By the half-way stage, even as Kenji Narisako, the eventual winner, gained a little, Abraham kept his poise and was almost together with the Japanese on the last hurdle.
Through the final 40 metres it was tough for the Indian to hold off the threat posed by the former champion Sultan Mubarak Al-Nubi of Qatar. Abraham had come fourth in Amman two years ago when Kazakh Yevgeniy Melshenko had won. The defending champion finished fifth this time.
Abraham said that he had changed his stride pattern after the World championships last August when he was disqualified for a hurdling infringement. “I was careful about it this time,” said the 28-year-old Indian who had a season best of 49.59s clocked in Chennai in May.
The expected results came about in women’s discus. What was unexpected was the challenge the Asian Games champion Song Aimin had to face from her Chinese teammate Ma Xuejun who opened with a 63.63 to practically destroy any Indian hope of gaining a better medal than bronze.
Song Aimin had to pull out all her experience to prevail over her countrywoman with a last-round throw of 63.90. Krishna Poonia did well to go up to 59.84 in her second throw, her best in recent weeks, though her season best stood at 60.78 recorded in London last August.
Harwant Kaur, who made the squad on the strength of her Chennai inter-State performance (58.71) came fifth, behind Japanese Yuka Murofushi (55.14) with only 53.83 which was a surprise. She had three valid throws, all over 53 metres, and three fouls.
Prakash Verma missed a medal in the men’s 800 metres by a hundredth of a second, a heart-breaking experience for the Delhi youngster. “Did I get a medal,” he kept asking several minutes after the final.
Defending his triple jump title, Renjith Maheswary missed a medal by a centimetre, reaching 16.48m in the last round.
In an engrossing battle in decathlon, Bhartender Singh slipped and bounced back but eventually had to settle for the fourth place, faring poorly in pole vault (3.70m).
Men: 200m: 1. Omar Al Salfa (UAE) 21.07s, 2. S. hinji Takahira (Jpn) 21.08, 3. Hitoshi Sato (Jpn) 21.10.
800m: 1. Sadjad Moradi (Iri) 1:48.58, 2. Mohd. Al-Azemi (Kuw) 1:48.93, 3. Adnan Al-Mntfage (Irq) 1:49.00; 4. Shishpal Prakash Verma (Ind) 1:49.01.
400m hurdles: 1. Kenji Narisako (Jpn) 49.22, 2. Joseph G. Abraham (Ind) 49.96, 3. Sultan Mubarak Al-Nubi (Qat) 50.19.
High jump: 1. Manjula Wijesekara (Sri) 2.23m, 2. Huang Haiqiang (Chn) 2.23, 3. Vitaliy Tsykunov (Kaz) 2.20; 11. Hari Sankar Roy (Ind) 2.10.
Triple jump: 1. Roman Valiyev (Kaz) 16.70m, 2. Zhu Shujing (Chn) 16.67, 3. Yevgeniy Ektov (Kaz) 16.49; 4. Renjith Maheswary (Ind) 16.48.
Decathlon: 1. Hiromasa Tanaka (Jpn) 7515 pts, 2. Hadi Sepehrzad (Iri) 7262, 3. Zhu Hengjun (Chn) 7200; 4. Bhartender Singh (Ind) 6932.
Women: 200m: 1. Momoko Takahashi (Jpn) 23.53, 2. Vu Thi Huong (Vie) 23.61, 3. Jiang Lan (Chn) 23.65.
800m: 1. Zhou Haiyan (Chn) 2:04.89, 2. Margarita Matsko (Kaz) 2:05.31, 3. Truong Thanh Hang (Vie) 2:05.33; 6. Tintu Luka (Ind) 2:07.61.
400m hurdles: 1. Satomi Kubokura (Jpn) 56.62s, 2. N.M. Khalid (Mas) 57.15, 3. Natlya Asanova (Kaz) 59.37.
Discus: 1. Song Aimin (Chn) 63.90m, 2. Ma Xuejun (Chn) 63.63, 3. Krishna Poonia (Ind) 59.84; 5. Harwant Kaur (Ind) 53.83.
20km walk: 1. Mayumi Kawasaki (Jpn) 1:30:12, 2. Yang Yawei (Chn) 1:34.11, 3. Svetlana Tolstaya (Kaz) 1:36:42.