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Fleet-footed Fab 4 do it again

india Updated: Nov 27, 2010 00:21 IST
Ajai Masand

Like kabaddi, the women's 4X400m relay is on its way to becoming an Indian bastion.

As darkness descended on the gigantic Aoti Athletics Centre and mega-watt bulbs came on, the quartet of Manjeet Kaur, Sini Jose, Ashwini Akkunji and Mandeep Kaur, shone even brighter, running at a blistering pace to clinch the fifth Games track and field gold for the country.

It was Manjeet, the veteran of many a battle and a member of the quartet that had also won the 2006 Doha Asian Games gold, who took the first charge, but with age showing in her gallop, she trailed her Kazakh rival by a good four metres.

Sini, next to wield the baton, set a blistering pace and the tall Akkunji, with her measured strides, increased the lead.

Finally, Mandeep Kaur did the honours, finishing way ahead of Kazakhstan's Olga Tereshkova in a time of 3:29.02. Though this was nowhere near the season's best of 3:27.77, it was good for gold on Friday.

A wave of applause arose from a few pockets, where Indian supporters had trooped in much before the day's proceedings began, as Preeja Sridharan and Kavita Raut came in second and third respectively in the gruelling 5000m event to once again show the world that Indian athletics is on the upswing.

Incidentally, Preeja and Kavita also reset the national records, setting personal best times of 15:15.89 and 15:16.54 respectively.

It was a tactical race with both the Indians keeping pace with the leading pack, and till the last 100 metres, it seemed India were in contention for gold, before Mimi Belete Gebregeiorges of Bahrain emerged champion.