Neeraj Chopra’s gold the most sparkling

Manjit Singh provided the biggest surprise as athletics helped India hit an all-time Asiad high in total medal count

September 02, 2018 10:27 pm | Updated 10:27 pm IST - JAKARTA

Showcasing his class: Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, seen with coach Uwe Hohn, again proved why he is one of the best, young athletic talents in the country.

Showcasing his class: Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, seen with coach Uwe Hohn, again proved why he is one of the best, young athletic talents in the country.

He had been waiting patiently for years, virtually living in Jinson Johnson’s shadow. But when his big moment came, Manjit Singh grabbed the opportunity and pulled off the biggest upset of the Asian Games as far as Indian athletics was concerned.

That brought a rare one-two for India in the 800m at the Asiad but later, National record holder Jinson had his revenge by taking the 1500m gold.

The Indians had been fine-tuning, and trying out new things, in countries like Poland, Czech Republic, Finland and Bhutan for the last few months.

And, there was a rush of golds and impressive performances as the country finished third in the athletics table with seven golds, 10 silvers and two bronzes for its third best finish in the Asiad ever after 1951 New Delhi (10 golds) and 1978 Bangkok (8 golds).

Athletics also helped India hit an all-time Asiad high in the total medal count (69), across all sports in Jakarta.

Unbeatable: The quartet of Sarita Gayakwad, Vismaya, Hima Das and Poovamma Raju ensured that India’s domination in the 4x400m continued.

Unbeatable: The quartet of Sarita Gayakwad, Vismaya, Hima Das and Poovamma Raju ensured that India’s domination in the 4x400m continued.

Remarkable journey

The Haryana youngster’s remarkable journey began with the under-20 World title and now he is the champion at the Asians, the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and getting closer to the world’s best in the Diamond League too.

He demolished the field here with a 88.06m throw, the first Indian to cross the 88m milestone and is now excitingly close to 90m.

Arpinder Singh’s gold was also a bit of a surprise but Romanian Bedros Bedrosian, the National coach for jumps, had predicted that the Chinese top stars would not go big in Jakarta. That was exactly the case.

Shot putter Tajinder Pal Singh, heptathlete Swapna Barman, who overcame heavy toothache, and the women’s 4x400m relay team won the other golds but the Africans in West Asian teams, like Qatar and Bahrain, denied India at least half dozen more golds.

Quartermilers Muhammed Anas and Hima Das — who became the first Indian woman to go below 51s — 400m hurdler A. Dharun and sprinter Dutee Chand would have all had golds had the Games been open only to native Asians.

New rules

The IAAF has now brought in new rules, including a three-year waiting period for athletes to obtain transfers but Adille Sumariwalla, the Athletics Federation of India president, feels India should not be bothered by these things.

“We are a superpower now, we should be looking at Olympics and the Worlds, we should not be worried about these things,” Sumariwalla told The Hindu .

“The AFI’s aim, in the last four years, has been to start looking at the Olympics and not worry about the Asian and Commonwealth. Our vision has changed to the Olympic Games.”

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