Om Prakash Singh, a strapping 22-year-old from Haryana, made a memorable debut in the Asian athletics championships by claiming the shot put gold on the second day of competitions at the Guangdong Olympic Stadium here on Wednesday.
The day also saw three other medals for India, all bronze, as H.M. Jyothi (women’s 100m), Manjeet Kaur (women’s 400m) and Chatholi Hamza (men’s 1,500m) somewhat made up for disappointments elsewhere.
“It is a great feeling to win the gold on my debut in the senior championships,” said Om Prakash in the ‘mixed zone’ after the competition.
He had literally outclassed the field with his fifth-round throw of 19.87 metres, his third best effort ever.
The Indian was lying fourth after four rounds with a best of 19.01, his opening throw. He had two fouls after that and then a 19.00.
“I knew I could produce a big throw anytime. And I had that in the fifth,” said Om Prakash, who fouled his last throw.
Om Prakash had been in tremendous form this season, barring a brief slump in July. Coming into this competition, with seven performances over 19 metres, all achieved this season, the youngster was a confident competitor even in a tough field which contained the Asian record holder (21.13m) Abdulmajeed Al-Hebshi of Saudi Arabia.
As it turned out, Al-Hebshi finished way below expectations, at fifth with just 18.89 metres. Chinese Taipei’s Chang Ming-Huang, who led till Om Prakash took over, came second with 19.34m while Chinese Zhang Jun took the bronze at 19.15.
Manjeet Kaur looked capable of grabbing a better medal than the bronze given the way she came into the home straight in the women’s 400 metres. She was level with Chinese Chen Lin before both were overtaken by Japanese Asami Tanno, the pre-race favourite.
Tanno beat the Chinese over the last few metres, clocking 53.32 seconds for her first continental championships gold. Chen had the silver in 53.55 while Manjeet’s bronze came in 53.66.
Hamza also could have finished better than third in the men’s 1,500m, but his effort came rather too late on the home straight, allowing Sri Lankan Chaminda Wijekoon to take a rare silver for his country in the event.
The gold in a slow, wait-and-watch race was expectedly claimed by Mohammed Othman Shahween of Saudi Arabia. He sprinted home from 200 metres out.
India’s fourth medal of the day came in the women’s 100m, Jyothi doing very well at the end to edge out Chinese Tao Yujia, clocking 11.60s, a personal best for the 26-year-old Andhra woman.
It was her first medal at this level of competition and India’s first women’s sprint medal since 2000 when Saraswati Saha and Rachita Mistry had won silver and bronze. Jyothi had a wind-aided 11.54s in the Indian Grand Prix at Kochi earlier this season. Japanese Chisato Fukushima, so dominant in the earlier rounds, expectedly claimed the sprint gold, clocking 11.27s into a headwind of 1.0m/s. Vietnamese Vu Thi Huong won the silver in 11.50s.
China took six of the 12 gold medals at stake on Wednesday.
Men: 100m: 1. Zhang Peimeng (Chn) 10.28s, 2. Naoki Tsukahara (Jpn) 10.32, 3. Guo Fan (Chn) 10.37; 7. Suresh Sathya (Ind) 10.62, 8. Abdul Najeeb Qureshi (Ind) 10.63.
400m: 1. Liu Xiaosheng (Chn) 46.55s, 2. Yuzo Kanemaru (Jpn) 46.60, 3. Ismail Mohammed Al Sibyani (KSA) 46.84; 4. Bibin Mathew (Ind) 47.03, 5. Shakeh Mortaja (Ind) 47.36.
5,000m: 1. Mohammed Othman Shahween (KSA) 3:46.08, 2. Chamdina Wijekoon (Sri) 3:47.01, 3. Chatholi Hamza (Ind) 3:48.44, 5. Sunil Kumar (Ind) 3:49.38.
Pole vault: 1. Liu Feliang (Chn) 5.60m, 2. Yang Quan (Chn) 5.45, 3. Daichi Sawano (Chn) 5.45.
Shot put: 1. Om Prakash Singh (Ind) 19.87m, 2. Chang Ming-Huang (Tpe) 19.34, 3. Zhang Jun (Chn) 19.15; 9. Saurbh Vij (Ind) 18.09.
Women: 100m: 1. Chisato Fukushima (Jpn) 11.27s, 2. Vi Thi Huong (Vie) 11.50, 3. H.M. Jyothi (Ind) 11.60.
400m: 1. Asami Tanno (Jpn) 53.32s, 2. Chen Lin (Chn) 53.55, 3. Manjeet Kaur (Ind) 53.66; 4. Mandeep Kaur (Ind) 53.76.
1,500m: 1. Zhou Haiyan (Chn) 4:32.74, 2. Liu Fang (Chn) 4:33.35, 3. Truong Thanh Hang (Vie) 4:33.46; 4. S.R. Bindu (Ind) 4:33.73, 5. Sushma Devi (Ind) 4:35.04.
100m hurdles: 1. Sun Yawei (Chn) 13.19s, 2. Asuka Terada (Jpn) 13.20, 3. Dedeh Erawati (Ina) 13.32.
Triple jump: 1. Olga Rypakova (Kaz) 14.53m, 2. Xu Tingting (Chn) 14.11, 3. Irina Litvinenko (Kaz) 13.99; 8. M.A. Prajusha (Ind) 12.58, 10. Reshmi Bose (Ind) 12.18.
Hammer: 1. Zhang Wenxiu (Chn) 72.07, 2. Hao Shuai (Chn) 65.87, 3. Yuka Murofushi (Jpn) 65.87.
Heptathlon: 1. Yuliya Tarasova (Uzb) 5840 pts, 2. Yuki Nakata (Jpn) 5582, 3. Mei Yiduo (Chn) 5460.