Hassan Taftian (l) splashes to the Asian 100m title in Bhubaneswar (© AFP/Getty Images)
If the hot weather was a cause for sub-par performances on the opening day, it was the turn of torrential rain to play spoil sport on the second day of the Asian Athletics Championships in Bhubaneswar, India, on Friday (7).
A sudden downpour arrived less than 45 minutes after the commencement of the evening session that soaked the track and runways and filled the throwing areas with water. However the competitions went on as planned, albeit some with minor delays.
Taftian and Zyabkina take 100m titles
The ongoing rains and a pair of false start disqualifications hampered the men's 100m final, the evening-capping event, and in the end likely contributed to a minor upset. Hassan Taftian, Iran's national record holder at 10.04, held off Asian record holder Femi Ogunode by a scant 0.01 in 10.25 to capture his country's first title in the event.
The women’s 100m saw Kazakhstan take gold and silver through Viktoriya Zyabkina (11.39) and Olga Safronova who clocked 11.39 and 11.45 respectively. India's Dutee Chand was third in 11.52. The gold elevated Zyabkina from the silver position in Wuhan two years ago and was the first title for Kazakhstan in this event.
India claims four gold medals on the track
In spite of the trying conditions it was a profitable day for the hosts India as they claimed the top spot in four of the six track finals. Quarter-miler Nirmala Sheoran opened the quest for gold with a strong finish in women’s 400m clocking 52.01. Her commandeering style in this event was expected as she had already posted an Asia leading 51.28 a month ago at the Indian Federation Cup at Patiala. Vietnam’s Quach Thi Lan, the silver medallist in Incheon Asian Games in 2014, finished second in 52.78.
Minutes later Indians were 1-2 in the men’s race. Yahya Muhammed Anas, the Asian season leader with 45.32, entered the finals after a troubled night. Having produced a sub-45 clocking in his semis, a referee annulled the results following a protest from a runner who slowed down by after a recall gun mistakenly sounded. The race was re-run in the morning, putting Anas and a few fellow runners at a disadvantage for evening’s finals. Anas and teammate Arokia Rajiv, the Incheon bronze medallist, beat the rain and accelerated en route to 45.77 and 46.14 clockings. This was India's second gold medal in this event 42 years after Sriram Singh won it in 1975 at Seoul.
Metric milers Ajay Kumar Saroj and P U Chitra brought the hosts the remaining gold medals of the day.
In the men’s 1500m Saudi Arabia’s former Asian champion Mohammed Othman Shahween did the front running. Jamal Al-Hayrani from Qatar, the pre-race favourite with 3:38.00 PB from Nijmegen, snatched the lead on the last lap. Saroj, the reigning Asian junior champion who finished fifth at the World U20 Championships last year, made his move on the final bend and displayed a strong finish to win in 3:45.85 against Jamal’s 3:46.90.
Chitra's run was similar in the women’s race with Ayako Jinnouchi of Japan and China’s Geng Min. The 21-year-old Chitra, who was added to the Indian Team just prior to the championships, posted a personal best 4:17.92 to take the title. Geng Min was second in 4:19.15 while Jinnouchi claimed a second bronze medal from the championships. She took her first in 2013.
Samari claims first shot put title for Iran
The Indians however missed an expected top spot in the shot put. Tejinder Pal Singh, who leads the Asian rankings in 2017 with a 20.40m toss, was a disappointed man today as the gold slipped out of his hands by just three centimetres. Ali Samari gave Iran its first Asian championship gold in this event with his only valid throw of the day that came in the second round (19.80m). Tejinder’s response of 19.77m in the third round remained as his best of the day as the throwers had to be careful in the slippery circle.
China took two medals in the men's triple jum with Zhu Yaming taking the title at 16.82m, with Rio Olympic finalist Xu Xiaoling third with 16.45m. Philippines’ Mark Harry Diones also reached 16.45m, but split the Chinese pair on count-back.
China also finished 1-2 in the women's hammer throw where Luo Na prevailed with 69.92m ahead of defending champion Liu Tingting, who reached 69.45m.
The women’s high jump was especially hampered by the conditions. Uzbekistan’s Nadezhda Dusanova, the 2013 Asian champion, won at 1.84m.
Indian continues to top the medal tables after two days of competition with six gold, three silver and six bronze. China follows with four gold, three silver and three bronze, and Iran moves up to third with a tally of three gold and one bronze.
Ram. Murali Krishnan for the IAAF