Tintu Luka bagged her maiden gold in a major international event by winning the women's 800m finals as India finished with five medals on the final day of competition to sign off third in the 21st Asian Athletics Championships on Sunday.
India secured a haul of 4 gold, 5 silver, and 4 bronze medals in the championships to finish third behind China (15, 13, 13) and Qatar (7, 2, 1). Japan (4, 3, 11) and Bahrain (3, 3, 2) finished fourth and fifth respectively.
This was India's best finish since finishing second in 2007 in Amman, Jordan.
National record holder Luka clocked her season's best timing of 2:01.53 to clinch the gold at the Wuhan Sports Center. China's Zhao Jing (2:03.40) took the silver while Sri Lanka's Nimali Klarachchige (2:03.94) won the bronze.
This was 26-year-old Luka's first individual title in a major international event after breaking into the scene in 2008-09 with a lot of promise under the tutelage of the legendary PT Usha. She had won gold as part of the 4x400m relay teams in both the 2013 Asian Championships as well as the 2014 Asian Games.
Her national record stands at 1:59.17, which she clocked at the Continental Cup in Croatia in 2010. Since then, she had been able to breach the two-minute mark on only a few occasions.
With the gold today, Luka has qualified for the Beijing World Championships in August as the continental championship winner. She is yet to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics for which the standard is 2:01.00.
In men's 800m, India's Jinson Johnson bagged a silver with a time of 1:49.69, behind Qatar's defending champion Musaab Bala at 1:49.40. Japan's Kawamoto Sho (1:50.50) took the bronze.
Dharambir Singh and Srabani Nanda then added a bronze each in men's and women's 200m to make it a productive day for India.
It was a memorable race for Dharambir though he had to be satisfied with a bronze as his 20.66 secs effort eclipsed Anil Kumar's 15-year-old 200m national record of 20.73 secs.
For Srabani, who clocked her personal best of 23.54 seconds to win the bronze, it was her first major international medal.
India, however, suffered heartbreak as the women's 4x400m relay quartet failed to defend the title they won in the last edition in 2013 and were pushed to second place by China. The Chinese team clocked 3:33.44 to Indians' 3:33.81, while Kazakhstan won the bronze in 3:35.14.