Avinash Sable became the first Indian man to win the gold medal in 3000m steeplechase at the Asian Games while shot-putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor defended his title with an amazing final throw to beat back the challenge from his Saudi Arabian rival here on Sunday.
Sable, the 29-year-old national record holder, earned India its first gold medal in athletics, completing the race in 8:19.50 seconds.
Sable rewrote the previous Asian Games record of 8:22.79 held in the name of Iran’s Hossein Keyhani set at the 2018 Jakarta Games.Sudha Singh had won a gold in women’s 3000m steeplechase in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou.
Toor, the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games gold medallist, came up with a mighty throw of 20.36 metres on his sixth and last attempt to overhaul his Saudi rival Mohamed Daouda Tolo’s distance of 20.18 metres.
Toor, however, could not break his own Asian Games record of 20.75m set in 2018 Jakarta.But the 28-year-old’s final throw was way too good for his Saudi rival to overhaul in his final attempt.
Earlier, the toast of the nation in the last edition, Indian heptathlete Swapna Barman’s one “last shot” at glory at the Asian Games turned into a nightmare as she struggled with injuries to virtually go out of medal reckoning after the javelin throw event.
The defending champion, who boasts of a personal best of 52.55m in javelin throw, managed a throw of just 45.13 in the penultimate event of the gruelling two-day competition.
Javelin throw was one of the two events Swapna had won in 2018 en route to becoming the first Indian heptathlete to win an Asian Games gold.
Overall, Swapna was ranked fourth with 4840 points, 11 points behind her nearest rival Jingyi Liu of China ahead of the 800m race, which is the last segment of the seven-event competition.
The other Indian in the fray, Nandini Agasara notched a personal best of 39.88m in javelin throw that took her overall ranking to fifth place.
Earlier in the day, Swapna Barman leapt 5.71m in the long jump, while Nandini Agasara had a season-best 5.94m jump.
With her career ravaged by a spinal injury, the six-toed Indian athlete had contemplated retirement last year.But she took one last shot at glory and came to Hanghzou in her title defence bid.
This year she won the Inter-State meet and also bagged a silver medal in the build-up to the Asian Games.She also avoided surgery so as to ensure that she does not miss her training despite a bad back.
“But her body condition could not cope up and she failed to get a good start,” her coach Subhash Sarkar told PTI.”She was expecting a good result in high jump but a fourth place finish shattered her and she couldn’t recover from there,” he added.
Swapna had a jump of 1.70m, which was nowhere close to her personal best of 1.87.”The poor start has affected her morale and it showed in today’s javelin throw event. It’s as good as over,” Sarkar said of Swapna’s prospects this time.
Earlier, India’s Amlan Borgohain finished at the third position after clocking 21.08 seconds in the men’s 200m heats and advanced to the semifinal.The first three athletes in each heat make the cut for the semi-finals.
The top four times from all the heats who have not made the cut will also advance to the semifinals.The sprinter from Assam, currently the country’s fastest, holds both the men’s 100m and 200m national records.
However, Jyothi Yarraji failed to make the cut for the women’s 200m final.The Indian had a timing of 23.78s.Yarraji, however, is in contention for a medal in women’s 100m hurdles.