A crowd of over 30,000 turned up at the Guangdong Olympic Stadium on Thursday just to see one man — Liu Xiang.
For a meet that had so far mostly seen only empty stands, this was an expected record. Also expected, rather a foregone conclusion, was Liu Xiang’s victory in the 110-metre hurdles, China’s fourth gold on the third day of the Asian athletics championships.
Easing to win
The former Olympic and World champion and World record holder, who is a celebrity in China, eased up at the finish for a 13.50 seconds victory, in rain, followed by team-mate Shi Dongpeng at 13.67s.
Liu Xiang was back last September, after having missed more than a year due to an injury that dashed his Olympic hopes at home. He had won the Shanghai Grand Prix and the Chinese National Games before coming here.
Sudha Singh and Kiran Tiwari brought cheer to the Indian camp on an otherwise wet, gloomy and cold day.
In a rare two-medal haul for India, Sudha and Kiran took the silver and bronze respectively in the women’s 3000 metres steeplechase, behind Japanese Yoshika Tatsumi to swell the country’s medals tally to seven.
Sudha did well to tuck herself behind the Japanese right from the start in a seven-woman field, while Kiran overtook Chinese Fang Xiaoyu with about 1100 metres to go, to deservedly take the bronze.
Bettering National record
Sudha bettered her National record of 10:18.76 set in Jamshedpur two years ago by clocking 10:10.77 while Kiran timed 10:34.55. The Japanese was too good for an ordinary field, coming home in 10:05.94 for the gold.
Too much should not be read into the silver-bronze feat in an event that is yet to establish at the Asian level, having been introduced only two years ago.
Bhartender Singh was lying third with 2971 points at the half-way stage in the decathlon after having led at the beginning and dropped to second later. Chinese Liu Haibo (3125) and Iranian Hadi Sepehrzad (3057) were ahead of him, with Chinese Zhu Hengjun (2965) just behind him.
The walkers, competing in the rain, in the morning had a tough time. Indian record holder Babubhai Panucha, who led at the 6km mark, could not sustain his pace and dropped behind after that eventually ending fifth in 1:25:11. Harminder Singh, the other Indian, was disqualified.
Joseph Abraham finished third in his heat, in a photo-finish with former champion Mubarak Al-Nobi of Qatar in 50.42s to qualify for the 400-metre hurdles final. The National record holder happened to be in the toughest and the fastest heat, with Japanese Kenji Narisako, the favourite for the title, winning it in 49.91s.
Luka in final
Tintu Luka, on her Asian championship debut, made the final of the women’s 800 metres, coming second in a close finish with Chinese Liu Qing in 2:05.63. The Chinese was a hundredth of a second faster.
The second Indian entry, Sushma Devi, failed to qualify, finishing fifth in her heat in 2:08.63, the ninth fastest in the field, a rung lower than the last qualifier.
Indian K. Sowjanya failed to progress to the women’s 200m semifinals, finishing fourth in her heat, and 17th overall, in 25.21s.
In the women’s 4x100m relay qualification, the Chinese team dropped the baton on the first exchange, picked up and ran all the same and found that Sri Lanka emulated it on the anchor, resulting in just three teams finishing in the four-team race. Eventually, China was disqualified.
The Indian team fared poorly, coming fourth in the other heat in 46.51s, just a hundredth of a second ahead of Hong Kong China but qualified.
Men: 3000m steeplechase: 1. Tarek Mubarak Taher (Brn) 8:33.58, 2. Lin Xiangqian (Chn) 8:43.13, 3. Ali Abubaker Kamal (Qat) 8:34.73; 4. Elam Singh (Ind) 8:41.81, 8. Jagir Singh (Ind) 8:52.16.
110m hurdles: 1. Liu Xiang (Chn) 13.50s, 2. Shi Dongpeng (Chn) 13.67, 3. Park Tae-Kyong (Kor) 13.72.
Long jump: 1. Li Jinzhe (Chn) 8.16m, 2. Hussein Taher Al-Sabee (KSA) 7.96, 3. Yu Zhenwei (Chn) 7.96; 7. Maha Singh (Ind) 7.67.
20km walk: 1. Li Jianbo (Chn) 1:22:55, 2. Chu Yafei (Chn) 1:22:56, 3. Park Chil-Sung (Kor) 1:24:51; 5. Babubhai Panucha (Ind) 1:25:11, Harminder Singh (Ind) DQ.
Women: 3000m steeplechase: 1. Yoshika Tatsumi (Jpn) 10:05.94, 2. Sudha Singh (Ind) 10:10.77, 3. Kiran Tiwari (Ind) 10:34.55.
Pole vault: 1. Li Caixia (Chn) 4.30, 2. Wu Sha (Chn) 4.15, 3. Choi Yun-Hee (Kor) 4.00; 4. V.S. Sureka (Ind) 3.80.
Javelin: 1. Liu Chunhua (Chn) 57.93m, 2. Li Lingwei (Chn) 55.13, 3. Kim Kyong-Ae (Kor) 53.84; 6. S. Saraswathi (Ind) 51.15.