Rattled by a dope scandal, Indian athletics finally has something to cheer about as long jumper Mayookha Johny led the Indian charge with a gold on the opening day of the 19th Asian Championships here today. Discus thrower Vikas Gowda added a silver while Asian Games gold medallist Preeja Sreedharan bagged a bronze in women's 10,000m race.
Mayookha leapt 6.56m in her second jump to open India's gold medal account on a rain-hit opening day at the Kobe Universiade Stadium to emulate her idol Anju Bobby George who had won Asian Championship gold in 2005. China's Lu Minjia won the silver by jumping 6.52m while the bronze went to Japanese Saeko Okayama who had an effort of 6.51m. The women's long jump event was delayed after the stadium was lashed by rain which affected the performance of the athletes.
Mayookha's training mate and Commonwealth Games silver medallist MA Prajusha finished sixth with an effort of 6.27m.
Mayookha's effort though was below her season's best of 6.63m which she recorded in the National Inter-state Meet in Bangalore last month and her personal best of 6.64m which she came up at the Asian All Star Meet in New Delhi last year. She also failed to go past the 2012 London Olympics and next month's World Championships 'B' qualifying standard of 6.65m.
In the morning session, national record holder Gowda's performance was also affected by weather conditions as he finished second with an effort of 61.58m, behind Iranian Asian record holder Ehsan Hadadi who also had a below par 62.27m. The bronze medal went to Wu Jian of China (56.61m).
This was the Iranian's fourth consecutive Asian title though he was well below his season's best.