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Asian Athletics Championships: Good start but uphill climb ahead for Indians

Most Indians participating at the Asian Athletics Championships progressed on the opening day but earning medals will get tougher.

other sports Updated: Jul 06, 2017 22:04 IST
Navneet Singh
Amoj Jacob qualifies for the semi-finals 400 metres semi-finals at the Asian Athletics Championships at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Thursday.
Amoj Jacob qualifies for the semi-finals 400 metres semi-finals at the Asian Athletics Championships at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Thursday. (HT Photo)

It was a good start for the Indian contingent as almost all the participants in fray entered the next round of their respective events in the morning session of the opening day of Asian Athletics Championships here at the newly renovated Kalinga Stadium on Thursday.

Middle distance runner Ajay Kumar dominated the 1500m heats to stay in contention for medals while teammate Siddhanta Adhikari, who finished second in his heats, also made the cut.

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Both runners displayed good tactics in the preliminary round but the final, scheduled on Friday, will be more challenging.

Coach JS Bhatia expressed satisfaction over Ajay’s performance.

“He has been on the right track. He should be able to earn a podium finish,” he told HT after the heats.

Ajay’s personal best is three minutes and 43 seconds, clocked in May during a domestic meet in New Delhi.

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In the women’s group both PU Chitra and Monika Choudhary made the cut.

With three Indians, including national record holder Mohammad Anas, cruising into the semi-finals of men’s 400 metres, it was evident of India’s depth in the field.

However, it was unusual to see Anas slow off the block but then the runner pushed hard in the last 200m of the race. He has been nursing an injury and was happy with his performance of 46.70 seconds to finish second behind Sri Lankan Dilip Ruwan.

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His personal best is 45.32 seconds, clocked in May, which was better than the entry standard of 45.50 seconds for the World Championships in August.

Rajiv Arokia (46.41s) and teenage runner Amoj Jacob (47.09s) were the other two to enter the semi-finals.