Dharun Ayyasamy (400m hurdles), Sudha Singh (women's 3000m steeplechase) and Neena Varakil (women's long jump) all won silver in their respective events to add to India's athletics medals tally on Monday.
Dharun Ayyasamy clocked a personal best and national record timing of 48.96 seconds behind Qatar's Abderrahman Samba, who won gold with a Games record timing of 47.66. The other Indian in the fray, Santhosh Kumar Tamilarasan, finished fifth, clocking 49.66.
"I'm happy I could improve upon my performance of 49.45 in March, and to become the first Indian to run sub-49. I have been preparing for the Asian Games for the past one year and came here hoping to break the national record."
Formerly a kho-kho player, the 21-year-old from Tirupur district in Tamil Nadu, Dharun rewrote records with a timing of 49.45 on the final day of the Federation Cup in March this year. The previous 11-year mark stood in the name of Joseph Abraham for his 49.51 effort. This after just weeks of recovering from a bout of typhoid. He suffered an early exit at the Commonwealth Games this year after finishing fifth in his heat and failing to qualify for the final.
"I wasn't looking at the first guy (Samba) because I knew he has among the fastest timings, instead I just focused on the Japanese guy (Takatoshi Abe, who finished third today) and told myself I have to go past him. He's a very good competitor and that was my only aim. I managed to do that. I came here with just with the thought of wanting to make it a 49s national record. I will focus on that in the upcoming tournaments," said Dharun.
Dharun's journey to become an athlete was fraught with challenges. He lost his father to tuberculosis when he was just 10 and the untimely death forced his mother K Poongudi, a teacher in a private school, to take up the cudgels.
Sudha takes silver
Meanwhile, Sudha Singh also won silver in the women's 3000m steeplechase with a timing of 9:40.03. Bahrain's Winfred Yavi won gold with a timing of 9:36.52.
At 32, one of the seniormost members of India's athletics squad, Sudha had won the 3000m steeplechase in Guangzhou eight years ago and also won gold at the Asian Championships in Bhubaneswar in 2017.
Two-time Olympian and flagbearer of the 3000m steeplechase, Sudha suffered a heartbreak at the Rio Olympics, failing to make the final after she tripped and lost rhythm. In January this year, she topped the women's category of the Mumbai Marathon under tough conditions and she qualified for the Asian Games with a timing of 9:39.59, well above the Asian qualifying norm of 9:50. Eight years ago, Sudha had won gold at the Guangzhou Games and finished fourth in Incheon 2014.
Neena takes long jump silver
Neena Varakil won silver in women's long jump with a mark of 6.51m, behind Indonesia's Thi Thu Thao Bui, who won gold with a jump of 6.55m.
At the 2017 Asian Athletics Championships, Kerala girls Neena and Nayana James (who finished 10th with 6.14 on Monday) took home the silver and bronze medals respectively. That same year, Neena also won gold at the Asian Grand Prix. The Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast this year though wasn't a memorable outing for either, with Neena finishing 10th with a best jump of 6.19 and Nayana falling further behind in 12th position with a best distance of 6.14.