Indian athletes finished on a high on the final day of track and field events at the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia. Jinson Johnson added a gold medal after missing out in the 800 meters. The women’s and men’s relay team clinched gold and silver in 4 X 400 meters respectively. Discus thrower Seema Punia clinched the bronze medal. P U Chitra also won bronze in the women’s 1500 meters.
With incredible performances by the athletes, India surpassed its last edition’s medal tally. India has 59 medals, 2 more than the previous editions tally – 13 gold, 21 silver, and 25 bronze.
Jinson Johnson ran a tactical race in the finals of the men’s 1500 meters. He ran with the leaders for the most part of the race and kicked off late in the race to bag the gold. The Kerala athlete ran in third place for the majority of the race and dashed in the last 300 meters of the race to clock a time of 3:44.72 minutes.
Indian Manjit Singh who outran Jinson in the 800 meters to claim gold also used the same tactic but he finished fourth. Jinson’s medal is the first gold medal for India in the event since Sunita Rani’s old in 2002.
The Indian 4 X 400m women’s relay team continued their dominance in the event after they secured their fifth consecutive Asiad gold medal. The team of Hima Das, MR Poovamma, Saritaben Gayakwad and VK Vismaya clocked a timing of 3:28.72 in the final. The team finished the race by quite a distance. Bahrain clocked a timing of 3:30.61 to finish in the second place. Hima Das ran the first leg of the race giving India a sizeable lead which proved to be the winning factor for India. However, the team missed out on the Games record by just 0.4 seconds. The Games record is 3:28.68 minutes.
The men’s 4 X 400m relay team clinched silver in the finals and ended India’s campaign on a medal-winning note. The team of Muhammed Kunhu, Ayyasamy Dharun, Muhammed Anas and Arokia Rajiv clocked 3:01.85 to bring home the silver. In the first leg, Muhammed Kunhu was in the fourth place. Ayyasamy Dharun reduced the gap between India and third-placed Sri Lanka. Muhammed Anas brought back India in the medal contention in the third led of the race. In the fourth leg of the race, Arokia Rajiv staved off a challenge from Japanese Shota Iizuka to finish behind Qatar who took the gold medal.
Seema Punia bagged the bronze medal in the discus throw finals. The 35-year-old cleared a distance of 62.26m in her third attempt to record her season-best figures and finish in the third position. With her 2014 Incheon gold medal, Seema was the defending champion. But she couldn’t over Chinese throwers who had cleared the 64-meter mark before coming to Indonesia.
India finished third overall in athletics behind China (12, 12, 9) and Bahrain (12, 6, 7) after another fruitful day.
The Indian men’s hockey team suffered a shock in the semi-finals resulting in their ouster from the gold medal contention. The team lost to lower ranked Malaysia in a shoot-out. With 3 minutes on the clock, India was leading 1-2, but Malaysia equalized off a penalty corner. In the shoot-out, the defending champions lost 6-7 dashing their hopes of a finals berth. In the group stages, India scored 76 goals in five matches creating a world record of most goals by a team in an international hockey match.
“We have scored 73 goals [sic] so far up until before this match. It was very disappointing today and I think the team still doesn’t know how to score under pressure. 73 goals are nice but they were scored against relatively smaller teams and today was what mattered and they couldn’t score,” said David John, high-performance director of the team.