Manpreet Kaur, Govindan Laxmanan win gold in Asian Athletics Championships
India’s Manpreet Kaur claimed the gold medal in the women’s shot put, while defending champion Vikas Gowda failed to retain his title in the men’s discus throw event on the opening day of the Asian Athletics Championships at the Kalinga Stadium on Thursday.
Manpreet, who won gold with a throw of 18.28 metres, will now focus on the IAAF World Championships in London next month. She had booked her ticket for the Worlds in April, during the Asian Grand Prix in China, with a throw of 18.86m.
The thrower from Punjab said that the gold-winning performance at the Asian meet was a big bonus and a confident boost. “I was confident of winning the title on home soil and was mentally prepared to cross the 18m mark,” said a beaming Manpreet. There was bit of pressure but I settled down as the event progressed.”
The overall performance, a big morale booster, will help her at the Worlds. “My performance today will help me mentally gear up to face stiff challenge in the global competition,” she added.
Following Manpreet’s gold, Laxmanan emerged triumphant in the men’s 5,000 metres. He had to struggle hard for his gold medal after he was trailing the leading four runners towards the end of the second last lap but produced a stunning sprint finish over the final 300 metres to win by a handsome margin.
In the last edition at Wuhan in 2015, Laxmanan had won bronze.
Before the start of the Asian Athletics Championship, the national champion had predicted that he will move up the ladder this time. “I had been preparing for this day since November last. Had been training with other runners at the high altitude of Ooty. To prepare for humid weather sometimes I trained in the afternoon, It worked out for me as I had enough energy to outclass my rivals in the last lap,” he said, adding now my focus is world championships.
The Services runners will be first Indian to make the cut for the world championships since it started in 1983.
Meanwhile Gowda was far below his best on Thursday -- he managed a best throw of 60.81m, way below his season’s best of 62m. Gowda expressed satisfaction on winning bronze, saying he is coming back from a knee operation and hadn’t done much training for building explosive strength.
“Last six months have been challenging for me to get back into good shape. I missed some training but overall its okay,” he said.
Gowda, though, missed the ticket for the world meet. “My focus is to give my best in the 2018 season. Want to win gold in the Commonwealth Games in April and later maintain my performance to earn podium finish in the Asian Games,” he added.
At the long jump pit, Neena V and Nayana James won silver and bronze medals, respectively.
There was outstanding performance by national record holder Mohammed Anas in the men’s 400m semifinal as he clocked 44.98 secs, the first sub-45 second run on Indian soil, to advance to the final. Rajiv Arokia and Amoj Jacob have also qualified for the final.