Woman power drives India to gold and glory
It was one of those days, when choosing which events to watch proved a most difficult exercise. Whether to see tiny Sunita Rani win gold or watch Neelam Jaswant Singh hurl the discuss to another new mark.india Updated: Oct 11, 2002 01:12 IST
It was one of those days, when choosing which events to watch proved a most difficult exercise. Whether to see tiny Sunita Rani win gold in her first contest after a two-year lay-off and a 1,500m Games record to boot, or watch the veteran Neelam Jaswant Singh hurl the discuss to another new mark.
When Saraswati Saha did not see Susanthika Jayasinghe in lane five of the 200m final, her eyes nearly popped out. The 100m winner had opted out of the 200m because of injury. Yet, the absence of the Sri Lankan did not take away anything from the Indian sprinter's powerful run.
Sunita Rani did the unimaginable. The 25-year-old from Sanaam had been almost written off a year ago. The Bangkok silver medallist smashed the Games record, clocking 4:06.03 --- that's 6.45 seconds inside the previous record set by Qu Yunxia in 1994. Yunxia’s record of 4:12.48sec was set at the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games.
Neelam flung the disc to a distance of 64.55 m, erasing China's Hou Xuemei record of 63.56m set in 1990.
India is enjoying one of its best Asian Games in a long time. It's been a record haul in track and field - and it's the women who are leading the way.
KM Beenamol, gold winner in 800m on Tuesday, put up a good display in the women's 400m on Thursday also to add a silver medal to her collection and take India's tally in athletics to an impressive six gold, four silver and two bronze medals.
The 23-year-old Sunita, a late inclusion in the squad, proved her worth as she maintained her lead right through the race.
Kazakhstan's Tatiana Borisova tried to keep pace with Sunita in the initial stages of the gruelling race but she fell back from the third lap onwards and eventually had to be content with the silver.
The bronze medal went to Japan's Yoshiko Ichikawa (4:13.42sec).
Madhuri Singh, who had brilliantly set the pace for K M Beenamol in the women's 800m on Tuesday, made a valiant effort to make it to the podium but had to be content with the fourth position with a timing of 4:14.78sec.
"I was confident of doing well. I knew I could break the Games record if I ran well," a jubilant Sunita said.
"Winning a gold is always satisfying."