India won four gold medals on the second day of the ongoing 2016 Asian Athletics Championships in Bhubaneshwar on Friday. Having won two gold medals on the opening day of the competition, India now has a total of six gold medals with two days of competition still remaining. They had won five gold medals at the 2015 edition in Wuhan.
For the first time in the country's history, India picked up gold in both men's and women's categories of the 400m and 1500m race. In addition, India also won two silver and as many bronze medals.
Gold - Men's 400m
Silver - Men's 400m
Mohd Anas won his first ever gold at the Asian Athletics Championships when he finished ahead of compatriot Arokia Rajiv in the men's 400m race. Anas clocked a time of 45.77 seconds to finish ahead of Rajiv, who took silver with a time of 46.14 seconds. While the 23-year-old Anas missed out on his own national record mark of 45.32 seconds recorded at the Indian Grand Prix in May this year, it was a dip that was expected as his semi-final race had to be re-run. Rajiv, 26, also opened his Asian Athletics Championships account, having earlier won a bronze in the same event at the 2014 Asian Games.
Gold - Women's 400m
Bronze - Women's 400m
Haryana sprinter Nirmala Devi had long been rated as the premier quarter miler in the country and the 22-year-old justified that tag by winning the women's 400m with a time of 52.02 seconds. Nirmala, who represented India at the Rio Olympics in both the 400 and 4x400m relay, was quick of the blocks and a powerful finish left her well clear of the field. Finishing more than a second behind her was Jisna Mathews, who still managed a bronze with a time of 53.32 seconds. The 18-year-old from PT Usha's stable failed to qualify for the World Championships but a maiden podium finish at the Asian Athletics Championships would be a reasonable trade-off.
Gold - Women's 1500m
PU Chithra had won a gold medal in the 3000m at the 2013 Asian School Championships but success at the international level had been rare since then. She changed all that on Friday with a gold in the women's 1500m. Chithra was not the favourite to win the race. Most would have expected Japan's Ayako Jinnouchi, who had the season's best timing. Instead, it was the 22-year-old daughter of farm workers who burst to the lead in the final straight to claim a win in 4:17:92 seconds. While the time would not have been enough to qualify for the World Championships, the fact that Chithra had won the continental event meant she had booked a spot for London all the same.
Ajay Kumar Saroj
Gold - Men's 1500m
20-year-old Ajay Kumar Saroj produced the most remarkable performance by an Indian athlete so far at the Asian Championships. Belying his age, Saroj, an Asian junior champion ran a superb tactical race. A powerful kick in the final 250m put him ahead of the race leaders and gave him a wholly unexpected win in 3:45.85 seconds. The surprise result ensured that Saroj will be travelling to London in August for the World Championships.
Tejinder Pal Toor
Silver - Men's shot put
India nearly missed out on a chance to make it three events in which they had won gold in both men's and women's events when Tejinder Pal Toor had to settle for silver in the men's shot put. Toor, who had a season's best of 20.40m going into the tournament, threw the iron ball 19.77m to finish just three centimeters behind Iran's Ali Samari. Compatriot Manpreet Kaur had won the women's event on Thursday. Toor, who was expected to win the event and book a direct spot for the London World's, will now have to wait for the inter state championships in a couple of weeks to get another shot at the qualifying standard of 20.50m.
Bronze - Women's 100m
Competing in her home stadium, Odisha's Dutee Chand gave her supporters something to cheer about as she finished on the podium in a time of 11.52 seconds. While Dutee has run faster times this season - she has a season's best of 11.30 seconds -- the result was a reasonable one considering she got off to a sluggish start on a track that had been soaked by an evening shower. As things stand, Dutee still has to qualify for the World Championships, which have a qualification standard of 11.26 seconds.