Manjit Singh won India's ninth gold with a mark of 1:46.15 minutes in the men's 800 metre at the Asian Games on Tuesday. Pre-race favourite Jinson Johnson came a close second with 1:46.35 to claim silver, while Qatar's Abubaker Abdalla won bronze, clocking 1:46.38. It's India's first gold in 800m since 1982, when Charles Borromeo won it with a timing of 1:46.81.
Manjit was in fifth place for the majority of the race, with Qatari runner Abubaker Abdalla leading Johnson till the 600m mark. Manjit put in the hard strides towards the final bend, and went past Bahrain's Abraham Rotich, before brushing aside Iran's Amir Moradi to bring himself up to stride with the front two. Once he left Johnson behind, he took Abdalla out of the picture closer to the finishing line. The top three runners were separated by just 0.23s, indicating the close nature of finish.
With a personal best of 1:48.48, Manjit was far from a medal contender at the start of the race. Fellow Indian Johnson, who had topped the heat with a timing of 1:47.39, was the hot favourite. At the Federation Cup in March this year too, Johnson and Manjeet had finished 1-2, but then Johnson had taken the gold with both bettering the meet record set by Sajeesh Joseph four years ago.
India take mixed relay silver, AFI lodges complaint
India won silver with a timing of 3:15.71 in the mixed 4x400m relay, an event which made its debut at the Asian Games on Tuesday. Bahrain claimed gold with a mark of 3:11.89.
For India, 400m silver medalist Muhammad Anas started the race, with both the female team members MR Poovamma and Hima Das thrown in the middle, while Arokia Rajiv anchored it to the finish.
"We had no experience of this, but we gave our best effort and ran. This will help us the next time we run this event," Arokia Rajiv said after the event.
"Last 400m final was very difficult to run, this felt much easier. It was a good experience, happy to run with the girls," said Muhammed Anas.
MR Poovamma was also happy with the performance, and said Bahrain was a tough team to beat. "We have been training with them [the boys] for quite a few years, so it is quite a good bond with them. It's not like we are running for a team, we are running as a family. We knew Bahrain was a good team, so we are happy to have won silver," she said.
Shortly after the event, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) lodged a protest against Bahrain for causing obstruction to Hima Das during the race. "It was clear obstruction and we have lodged a protest. It also caused a minor injury to Hima. It cost us some time. The jury is there to see what happened," AFI President Adille Sumariwala told PTI.
When Hima got the baton, she had to change her lane and sidestep Bahrain's Oluwakemi Adekoya, who fell before her, obstructing her way, after passing on the baton to Salwa Naser.
"I had to jump over her to cross her, and I thought I have committed a foul by going to lane 2. It played in my mind. I don't know she actually got off balance or fell deliberately to obstruct me," Hima said.