Qatar's 4x400m team after winning at the Asian Games (© AFP / Getty Images)
The athletics programme of the Asian Games concluded in style in Jakarta on Thursday (30) as a long-standing Asian record was broken in the final event of the championships.
Qatar’s team included 400m hurdles champion Abderrahman Samba, who got his team off to a good start with a 44.5 lead-off leg. Mohamed Nasir Abbas and Mohamed El-Nour maintained the team’s lead before individual 400m champion Abdalelah Haroun anchored the team to victory in 3:00.56.
The quartet not only obliterated the Qatari record of 3:02.50 set in 2015, but they also took 0.2 off the Asian record of 3:00.76 set by Japan at the 1996 Olympic Games.
India clocked 3:01.85 to secure the silver medal from Japan, who recorded 3:01.94.
The pre-race favourites for the women’s title, Bahrain, suffered from a poor first exchange and could not quite get back on terms with India.
The team of Hima Das, Poovamma Machettira, Saritaben Gayakwad and Vismaya Velluva won in 3:28.72, contributing to India’s fifth successive victory in the women’s 4x400m at the Asian Games.
Bahrain, with a team that included world silver medallist Salwa Eid Naser, settled for silver in 3:30.16, while Vietnam took bronze in 3:33.32.
Three members of Bahrain’s 4x400m team, though, had raced in the 4x100m earlier in the evening and came away with the gold medal. The quartet of Iman Essa Jasim, Edidiong Odiong, Hajar Alkhaldi and Naser won in a Games record of 42.73, smashing the national record in the process.
Naser, Bahrain’s anchor, caught China’s Yuan Qiqi in the closing stages. China took silver in 42.84 while Kazakhstan finished a distant third in 43.82.
In the men’s 4x100m, an experienced Japanese quartet of Ryoto Yamagata, Shuhei Tada, Yoshihide Kiryu and Aska Cambridge won comfortably in 38.16. Indonesia took advantage of the home crowd’s support to smash their national record and defeat defending champions China, 38.77 to 38.89.
Rypakova retains title
Kazakhstan’s 2012 Olympic champion Olga Rypakova maintained her remarkable domination of the women’s triple jump in Asia.
Her first valid jump, 14.00m, would have been sufficient to top the podium, but the 33-year-old improved to 14.26m in the fifth round to officially retain the triple jump title she had won in 2010 and 2014.
Thailand’s Parinya Chuaimaroeng and Vietnam’s Vu Thi Men both jumped 13.93m, but the former took silver on countback.
Befkadu completes distance double
Kalkidan Gezahegne Befkadu, who had won the 5000m earlier in the Games, triumphed in the women’s 1500m in 4:07.88. She became just the second athlete of the Games, after sprinter Edidiong Odiong, to win two individual titles.
Her performance also marked Bahrain’s third successive victory in this event at the Asian Games. Tigist Belay made it a Bahraini 1-2, taking silver in 4:09.12, while India’s Asian champion Chitra Palakeezh was third in 4:12.56.
There was a similar script in the men’s 5000m as Birhanu Balew and Albert Rop produced another 1-2 finish for Bahrain. In a close race, 2013 world U18 champion Balew won in 13:43.17 with Rop clocking 13:43.76. Saudi Arabia’s Tariq Ahmed Alamri was third in 13:56.49.
A tactical race gave India’s Jinson Johnson a clear space for a final surge to win the men’s 1500m in 3:44.72, adding another medal to his collection after his silver in the 800m. Iran’s Amir Moradi overtook Bahrain’s Mohammed Tiouali in the closing stages to take silver, 3:45.62 to 3:45.88.
Despite the presence of India’s defending champion Seema Punia, a Chinese 1-2 finish from Chen Yang and Feng Bin in the women’s discus wasn’t entirely unexpected. The Chinese duo comfortably topped the Asian rankings heading into the Games and duly lived up to expectation.
Chen’s second-round throw of 64.45m would have been enough for gold, but the Asian champion improved to 64.89m and 65.12m. Feng also saved her best for the final round, throwing 64.25m. 35-year-old Punia took bronze with 62.26m, her best mark for six years and farther than her gold medal winning throw from 2014.
Earlier in the morning, Japan’s Hayato Katsuki claimed gold in the men’s 50km race walk in challenging conditions around the Gelora Bung Karno area. Despite having to serve a five-minute penalty at about 34 kilometres, he joined the race feeling stronger and regained the lead in the closing stages, winning in 4:03:30.
“I prepared myself well to beat the heat, I’m happy with the gold medal,” he said.
China’s Wang Qin took silver in 4:06:48 and South Korea’s Joo Hyun-myeong claimed bronze in 4:10:21. Japan’s Satoshi Maruo led for the majority of the race, but he slowed down substantially in the closing stages and eventually finished fourth.
China, as they have done from 1986 onwards, topped the athletics medals table with 12 gold, 12 silver and nine bronze. Bahrain finished close behind, though, with 12 gold, six silver and seven bronze. The next Asian Games will be held in the Chinese city of Hangzhou in 2022.
Jad Adrian Washif for the IAAF