Day 9 at the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia was an eventful day for Indian track and field athletes. Neeraj Chopra bagged a historic gold in the javelin throw. Neena Varakil, Sudha Singh, and Dharun Ayyasamy clinched silver for India in track and field events. Saina Nehwal settled for bronze in badminton after she lost her semi-final match. Meanwhile, her counterpart P V Sindhu advanced to finals and will compete against world number 1 Tai Tzu Ying for the gold medal.
India’s flagbearer in the opening ceremony Neeraj Chopra won gold in the javelin throw. He threw the spear 88.06 meters in his third attempt to claim the gold medal. The 20-year-old created a new national record and broke his personal best. Considered India’s best athletics player, Neeraj delivered to the expectations and finished far ahead of his competitors.
“I don’t take pressure by setting targets. I had a gold in World Junior Championships, Asian Championship and at the CWG, but this is my biggest medal so far. The World Championship gold was at junior level, so this is big,” he said after the win. Chopra is the only Indian after Milkha Singh to win a Commonwealth and Asian games gold in the same year. In just two years of his senior career, Chopra has set new standards for Indian athletics.
India’s Neena Varakil clinched silver in the women’s long jump. Neena recorded the best attempt of 6.51 meters to finish second. Varakil recorded the best jump in her fourth attempt which was enough for her to clinch silver. Neena’s medal-winning performance is the first medal for India in the event since 2006.
India’s Sudha Singh grabbed the silver medal in the women’s 3000 meters steeplechase. Sudha clocked 9:40.03 minutes to finish behind Bahrain’s Winfred Yavi, who completed the race in 9:36.52 minutes. This is Sudha’s second Asian Games medal following her gold at the Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010.
India’s Dharun Ayyasamy claimed the silver medal in the men’s 400 meters hurdles. Dharun broke his own national record when he finished with a time of 48.96 seconds to win the silver. He broke the national record of 49.45 seconds that he set in the Federation Cup in Patiala earlier this year. The 21-year-old Tirupur athlete’s late surge in the 400-meter secured him the second position behind Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba who clinched the gold with a Games record of 47.66 seconds.
Saina Nehwal won a historic bronze after losing to World No.1 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei in women’s singles semifinals. In a match that lasted 37 minutes, the Indian lost in straight games — 17-21, 14-21 to the Chinese. Saina is India’s second singles player to win an Asiad bronze after Syed Modi, who won bronze in the 1982 Games.
PV Sindhu stormed into the finals after beating world no. 2 Akane Yagamuchi. She beat the Japanese in a three-game thriller 21-17, 15-21, 21-10. Sindhu became the first Indian to reach finals of an individual event in this year’s edition. Sindhu will take on world no. 1 Tai Tzu Ying of China for the gold medal on Tuesday.
India’s medal tally after Day 9: Gold 8, Silver 13, Bronze 20, Total 41