Aug 31, 2018: Jinson Johnson and the women’s 4X400 metre relay team won gold in their respective events at the 18th Asian Games on Thursday, 30 August, as Indian athletes recorded their best tally at the continental extravaganza since the inaugural edition in 1951.
The men’s 4X400 metre team added to the cheer in the Indian camp by clinching the silver
India’s best ever performance in Asian Games athletics came at the inaugural edition in 1951 when they hosted the event in New Delhi. That year, Indian athletes had clinched 10 gold, 12 silver and 12 bronze
Indian athletes had won seven gold medals at the 2002 edition as well, but had only managed a total of 17 medals, two less than this year.
Johnson clocked 3 minutes and 44.72 seconds to take the yellow medal in the men’s 1,500 metre event. Iran’s Amir Moradi took the silver with his season-best timing of 3:45.62, while Bahrain’s Mohammed Tiouali settled for the bronze with a time of 3:45.88.
Manjit Singh the other Indian in the fray, came fourth with 3:46.57.
Johnson was among the front runners right from the start while Tiouali took the early lead. However, Johnson powered away towards the end and the Bahrain athlete was not able to match the Indian’s explosive speed.
Manjit ran a more tactical race. He had positioned himself near the back of the group and tried to produce his trademark explosive burst going into the final lap. But with the runners closely bunched together in the rear and middle of the group, he found it difficult to create space which ultimately cost him a medal.
In the women’s 4X400m event, the Indian quartet of Hima Das, Raju Poovamma, Saritaben Laxmanbhai Gayakwad and Vismaya Koroth registered a time of 3:28.72 to finish at the top of the podium.
Bahrain got silver with 3:30.61 while the quartet from Vietnam clocked their season’s best time of 3:33.23 to bag the bronze medal.
The Indians were off to a great start as Hima gave them the early lead. The Assam teenager was a bit slow off the blocks, but produced a superb finishing kick going into the final bend to leave the other runners behind. The other Indian runners built on the lead and claimed what turned out be a comfortable victory in the end.
In the men’s 4X400m relay, the Indian quartet of Muhammed Kunhu, Dharun Ayyasamy, Muhammed Anas and Rajiv Arokia clocked a time of 3:1.85 to finish second.
Qatar created a new Asian record of 3:00.56 to win the gold while Japan finished the race in 3:01.94 and bagged the bronze medal.