Forced to compete within hours of landing here, shot-putter Navjeet Kaur Dhillon showed tremendous grit to clinch the bronze medal and open India’s account on the very first day of the 16th Asian Junior Athletics Championships on Thursday.
Competing on an empty stomach after a prolonged flight, the Punjab girl tossed the iron ball to 14.99m.
Having set a national mark of 15.89m during the Junior Federation Cup at Chennai last month, Navjeet was earlier predicted to win the top spot in the biennial meet for junior athletes of the continent.
However, a delay in the clearance of visa applications of the Indian team in Delhi, that eventually hurt some top medal contenders including ace sprinter Dutee Chand as well as decathletes Ankit Saini and Amolak Singh.
Dutee Chand missed this morning’s 100m heats while Saini and Singh were non-starters in the decathlon. However, when the Indian athletes reached the venue for the afternoon session straight from the airport, they did so without taking any food at all.
Navjeet’s first two throws landed out of sector as she has no time for a training session and hence lost the feel of the ground.
However, she managed to register 13.34m on her third round. Navjeet improved it to 13.56m on the fifth after fouling in the fourth round.
However, Navjeet decided to concentrate fully on her final throw and delivered it to a respectable 14.99m to settle for a bronze after her throw missed the silver medal mark by just 6 cm.
China’s Xu Jiaqi (16.50m) and Wang Ning-Yue (15.05) took the gold and silver medals in this event respectively.
In the junior women’s 5000m, Sanjivini Jadhav of India finished fifth after clocking 17:00.75.
In hammer throw, India’s Prakash Singh (60.34m) and Kapil Mann (59.20m) finished sixth and seventh respectively. The first day’s proceedings however finished on a disappointing note as upcoming quarter-miler GK Vijayakumari was disqualified in 400m heats for lane infringement.