Asian Athletics: Chitra wins 1500m gold, Dutee bags 200m bronze

PU Chitra celebrates her win in the 1500m final at the Asian Athletics Championships. KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images

PU Chitra defended her 1500m title to give India its third gold medal while Ajay Kumar Saroj and Dutee Chand won a silver and a bronze in men's 1500m and women's 200m, respectively, on the fourth and final day of the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha on Wednesday.

In addition, the Indian women's relay team won silver. The women's team -- Prachi, MR Poovamma, Saritaben Gayakwad and VK Vismaya -- won silver in the 4x400m relay with a time of three minutes, 32.21 seconds, taking India's medal tally to 17.

But there was late drama as India was initially declared to have won a silver in men's 4x400m relay with a time of 3:03.28, behind Japan (3:02.94) but the jury later disqualified the team for impeding an athlete after a protest by China. The disqualification was done under rule 163.2. India filed an appeal against the jury's decision to disqualify its team but the appeal was rejected. China, who initially finished third, was given the silver medal while Qatar was upgraded to bronze from fourth position.

India had won 29 medals (12 gold, 5 silver, 12 bronze) in the last edition in Bhubaneswar in 2017, topping the medal tally for the first time. This time, Bahrain topped the medal tally with 11 gold, 7 silver and 4 bronze, followed by China (10 gold, 13 silver, 7 bronze), Japan (5 gold, 4 silver, 9 bronze) and India (3 gold, 7 silver and 7 bronze).

This was the second time since 1983 that China has been pushed to the second spot. India did that in 2017 while Bahrain did the same this time. India's tally of 17 medals can be considered creditable as the team was depleted without some of its biggest medal contenders, including star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, owing to injuries.

The championships, as usual, did not see some of the best athletes in the world who preferred to focus on the World Championships to be held at the same venue in September-October.

Chitra overtook Bahraini runner Tigest Gashaw just a few metres before the finishing line to win the race in four minutes, 14.56 seconds at the Khalifa Stadium. This was India's third gold of the championships after Gomathi Marimuthu (women's 800m) and Tejinder Pal Singh Toor (men's shot put) won a gold medal each on Monday.

Gashaw clocked 4:14.81 for the silver while another Bahraini, Mutile Winfred Yavi, took the bronze in 4:16.18.

"Got a little nervous towards the end being next to Bahraini runner (Gashaw). She beat me to third place in Asian Games. I had to really push hard in the end," said the 23-year-old Chitra, who had won a bronze in the Jakarta Asian Games. Chitra won gold in the 2017 edition in Bhubaneswar in 4:17.92.

Her male counterpart, Saroj, clocked a season-best time of three minutes, 43.18 seconds to clinch silver behind Bahrain's Abraham Kipchirchir Rotich who clocked 3:42.85.

Dutee, who finished a disappointing fifth in the 100m final on Tuesday after smashing the national record twice, clocked 23.24 seconds to win the bronze in the women's 200m. After falling behind in the first 100m, she covered a lot of ground in the final 100m stretch and got past three competitors at the finish line.

Salwa Naser of Bahrain expectedly took the gold in 22.74 seconds while Kazkhstan's Olga Safronova, who also won the 100m gold, was second in 22.87 seconds.

The 23-year-old Dutee, who had won a 200m silver in the Jakarta Asian Games, still missed the World Championships-qualifying mark of 23.02. She has a personal best of 23.00.

"I am really very happy. I missed a medal in 100m and relay. I put too much effort in 100m, was not sure of medal in 200m. Just did my best and I am happy," Dutee said.

In the women's discus throw, Navjeet Kaur (57.47m) and Kamalpreet Kaur (55.59m) finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Murali Gavit, who won 10,000m bronze on the first day, finished fifth in the 5,000m final. Gavit was in third position on the last lap but couldn't hold onto it and missed out on a medal.