A change of shoe worked wonders for Vikas Gowda at the 20th Asian Athletics Championships.

“I struggled with my grip in the early throws, forcing me to take a look at my shoe. I found a hole at the back and changed my shoe after the second throw. It worked and I was able to get in my throws thereafter.”The World No. 11 came into the event as favourite and proved that weight of expectations would not affect him. “When expectations are high from outside, I put more pressure on myself. That is how I think and it helped me win the gold.”“Coming to India and performing in front of our fans means a lot for me,” said the discus thrower.

He won a silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and the 2013 AAC was the first competition back home for the Indian-American who trains at Arizona’s World Throws Centre under former world shot put champion John Godina.Gowda, celebrating his birthday on Friday, will be in Paris by then for the Diamond League. “I dedicate this gold to my parents who instilled a work ethic in me.”

Udaya Laxmi suspended

Om Prakash opened the medal hunt for India with a bronze in men’s shot put on a day when woman shot putter P. Udaya Laxmi was provisionally suspended by the Athletics Federation of India after testing positive for an earlier sample taken in June and her name withdrawn.

Om Prakash boosted the host’s morale with a medal. “I can assure you that. I represent India. It is my responsibility to keep away from these substances.”

Asked to comment on a bitter-sweet day from shot-putters, he said: “I cannot speak for her (Udaya Laxmi), but my feeling is that most of our athletes are not well educated, especially in this field. Somebody will recommend you to eat unknown substances. Athletes who are unaware of the dangers of consuming unknown things then face problems.”

The post-event routine for Om Prakash includes giving his urine sample, mandatory testing for all AAC medallists.

“I’m in athletics since 2005, took part in European meets and haven’t missed a single dope test. As a regular member of the national team, there is regular testing in Patiala,” he said.

He will hit the European track to assess his form against top class athletes. “I will compete in a couple of European Grand Prix meets and hopefully qualify for the worlds,” he said.

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