Soma Biswas and JJ Shobha repeated their Busan Asian Games 2002 performances in heptathlon, grabbing silver and bronze respectively, while S Shanthi clinched the 800m silver as India made a winning start in track and field on Saturday.
Soma was ecstatic after the event. "Just see my face and you will know how happy I am," said the athlete from Kolkata who works as a office superintendent with Eastern Railway. "After this medal, I think I can nurture hopes of another Asian Games medal four years from now," said Soma, who dedicated her medal to coach Kuntal Roy and her parents.
In the last event in heptathlon — 800 metres — Soma was following the pack till the 500m mark. She accelerated after that and on the final turn emerged leader. Soma totalled 5675 points in the two-day event and finished behind the tall and thin Olga Rypakova of Kazakhstan who had an aggregate of 5955. JJ Shobha had a total of 5662 for the bronze.
An hour before Soma set the track on fire, Tamil Nadu's S Shanthi, who was declared the best athlete at the National Open Championship at New Delhi in September, clocked 2:03.16 to finish behind Jamal Maryam Yusuf of Bahrain, who clocked 2:01.79.
Despite not being anywhere close to her personal best of 2:02.21, Shanthi, from Pudukottai in Tamil Nadu, was satisfied. "It was such a close race, almost a photo-finish, that I didn't know whether I had won a silver or a bronze," she said.
"I followed coach Nikolai Snisarev's advice to follow the leaders and pace up with 300m left," said Shanthi who also runs the 1500m. Shanthi, who trailed initially, took off near the end of the quarter mile, and increased the pace with just 200m left and lunged at the finish-line.
There was disappointment for Sinimol Poulose who timed 2:03.76 for a fifth place. Back to Soma, who was placed third on Friday. After four events — the 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put and 200m — she had a tally of 3291 points.
"After the javeling event I was very tense as the Japanese (Yuki Nakata) was just too good. But then I relied on my favourite event, the 800 metres," added Soma.
JJ Shobha was relieved after the event. "After the ordeal of (last-minute) trials I am happy I could win a bronze," said the 23-year-old, from Hubli in Karnataka, but is now settled in Hyderabad .
In the women's 400m, Pinki Paramanik in the first heat finishing second with a time of 53.90, while Manjeet Kaur too finished second in the other heat clocking 53.94.