Asian Games: Manjit Singh wins gold, Jinson Johnson silver in Men’s 800m

Athletics - 2018 Asian Games - Men's 800m, Final - GBK Main Stadium, Jakarta, Indonesia - August 28, 2018 - Manjit Singh of India wins the race ahead of Jinson Johnson of India and Abubaker Abdalla of Qatar.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

As he left the last corner and entered the home straight, all eyes were on Jinson Johnson.

The 27-year-old had broken Sriram Singh’s 42-year-old national record a couple of months ago and on Tuesday evening, he appeared set to convert his Asian lead into his maiden Asian Games 800m gold at the GBK Main Stadium here.

But soon after Jinson had shifted gears to home-stretch mode and was trying to get past Qatar’s Abdalla Abubaker and Bahrain’s Abraham Rotich, the two Africans in West Asian garb, something strange happened.

There was an intruder at Jinson’s party!

That was Manjit Singh, Jinson’s Indian teammate, and he was running like crazy. Jinson could not remember when Manjit had last beaten him and here he was, coming from fourth spot and going past everybody, almost comfortably, and grabbing the gold.

It was the Games’ biggest shock, at least for the Indians. Just about a year ago, Manjit was running in the 1:48 range and here he was, taking gold in his debut Asiad in a personal best 1:46.15s with Jinson taking silver in 1:46.35, a rare one-two for India in the event at the Asiad.

The last time Indians had won Asiad gold-silver in the 800m was 67 years ago in the inaugural edition in New Delhi in 1951 through Ranjit Singh and Kulwant Singh.

India won a silver too on Tuesday, in the mixed 4x400m relay through Muhammed Anas, M.R. Poovamma, Hima Das and Arokia Rajiv, finishing behind Bahrain (3:11.89s) in 3:15.71s.

“I’m not surprised that I beat Jinson, I had planned it all very well and I had decided to start my ‘kick’ with about 100m to go,” said Manjit. Abdalla Abubaker took the bronze.

Bahrain had Nigeria-born Salwa Eid Naser, currently one of the world’s best quartermilers, and top 400m hurdler Oluwa Kemi Adekoya and the two — running the second and third legs — made all the difference in the mixed relay.

Though India had Anas in the opening leg, Bahrain beat the Indians comfortably for the gold. “The Bahrain women were too good, we could never have won the gold,” said Anas.

Later, India lodged a protest against Bahrain saying that the baton exchange between Poovamma and Hima was obstructed by a Bahraini runner.

Kazakhstan also filed a protest against Bahrain that its runners did not run in the same colour. The verdict is awaited.

Hima’s false start

Hima, who ran the third leg, was sent off after a false start in the women’s 200m semifinal. That appeared to be a ‘strategy’ to keep her fresh for the mixed relay.

Since her name figured in the day’s start list, a withdrawal would have made her ineligible to run in all subsequent races.

Meanwhile, China’s Liu Shiying won the women’s javelin throw gold with 66.09m, a new Games record (old 65.47, Zhang Li, 2014) while Annu Rani, whose last-minute backdoor entry into the Indian team turned into a big controversy, was way below her best (personal best 61.86m) as she finished sixth with 53.93m.

Earlier, Dutee Chand topped her semifinal clocking 23s and entered the women’s 200m final as the fastest qualifier, while in the women’s 5000m, L. Suriya and Sanjivani Jadhav finished fifth and seventh respectively.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 2:41:49 PM |

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