Jinson Johnson, 4x400m relay women continue India's gold rush


India picked up two more Asiad golds in Jakarta, as Jinson Johnson and the women's 4x400m relay team stretched the country's overall medals tally to 59.

First, Johnson carved himself a piece of history in Jakarta, sprinting to the 1500m gold medal in 3:44.72 minutes. Johnson subsequently became the first Indian in 56 years to win this event at the Asian Games, following Mohinder Singh's gold at the 1962 Games.

Minutes after Johnson's impressive run, the relay team, comprising of Hima Das, Saritaben Gayakwad, VK Vismaya and MR Poovama, also cruised to the gold, their timing of 3:28.72 more than enough to see off Bahrain and Vietnam.

India, who are the Games record holders, got off to a good start thanks to Hima, who powered to the lead on lane six. Poovama maintained that advantage at the first exchange, meaning Saritaben and Vismaya did not have too much trouble to see the race through. The women's relay team has now won the gold at every Asian Games since 2002.

Johnson makes up for 800m disappointment

Johnson, who had to settle for silver in the 800m event on Tuesday, began the 1500m well, keeping pace with the leaders throughout. With his face straining and teeth clenched, he picked up the pace around the final bend, galloping past Iran's Amir Moradi and Bahrain's Tiouali Mohamed to seal the gold.

India's other medal hopeful, Manjit Singh, however, was unable to add to his 800m gold, as his timing of 3:46.57 could only secure a fourth place finish.

Johnson had emerged a strong contender for an Asiad medal following his strong display at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, where he broke Bahadur Prasad's national record in the 1500m event, finishing his run at 3:37.86.

Starting out from the mud tracks of Chakkittapara in the Kozhikode district of Kerala, Johnson was first spotted by K Peter, who has groomed the likes of Mayookha Johny and Nayana James. He later moved to the sports hostel in Baselius college in Kottayam before joining the Indian army in the artillery center in Hyderabad, where he only gained in training and exposure in the sport.

More medals for India

While the men's 4x400m relay team was unable to replicate the success of the women, they nonetheless collected a silver, as Kunhu Muhammed Puthanpurakkal, Dharun Ayyasamy, Muhammed Anas and Rajiv Arokia finished in 3:01.85, behind Qatar, who went on to set a Games record.

Earlier in the day, PU Chitra and Seema Punia had also added to India's tally, winning bronze in the women's 1500m and discus throw events respectively.

Chitra finished third in the 1500m event with a timing of 4:12.56, behind Bahrain's Kalkidan Befkadu and Tigist Belay. Seema, meanwhile, won her bronze with a throw of 62.26m.

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