There is a very thin margin between victory and defeat. Two Indian athletes in different disciplines settled for the silver, but were acutely disappointed that they did not land the bigger prize: the gold medal on the third day of the 20th Asian Athletics Championship at Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Balewadi.
Prem Kumar finished second in the men’s long jump while Sudha Singh bagged silver in the 3000 metres steeplechase.
Twenty-year old Prem who hails from Chennai had a best leap of 7.92 metres on his sixth and final jump. A gustsy wind and problems with the takeoff prevented him from leaping a further distance.
“I am extremely disappointed as I expect to sail to 8 metres. If I had secured 8.01 I would have qualified for the Worlds,” said the youngster.
Silver is still a fantastic achievement but full credit to Kumar who strives for the ultimate goal. China’s Wiang Jianan made sure the gold was in his custody with a leap of 7.95 metres.
The 3,000 metres steeplechase is a severe test of stamina. The water jumps make the event more taxing. Sudha started slowly but made up for lost time towards the end. She was far behind the eventual winner Bahraini Ruth Jebet.
“I am unhappy with my timing of 9:56.27. I should have done much better. I achieved my personal best of 9 minutes 45.60 seconds in the inter-state meet in Chennai last month,” moaned the UP athlete.
Sudha qualified for the Worlds in Moscow next month thanks to that effort. “I am training hard in Bangalore and I am hopeful of putting up a good show in Russia,” stressed Sudha. Mumbaikar Siddhanth Thingalaya lost the bronze to Japanese Watara Yazawa by 100th of a second.
India added two surprise bronze medals as javelin thrower Samarjeet Singh threw the spear to a personal best 75.03m while Hemasree Jayabal also had her best-ever timing of 14.01 secs and was extremely fortuitous to get on the podium in the women’s 100m hurdles after two hurdlers finished ahead of her were disqualified for false-starts.
Meanwhile, ace discus thrower Krishna Poonia, who finished fourth in the ongoing championships is heading to Kerala for Ayurvedic treatment on her injured groin.
Also, Athletics Federation of India’s plan to include dope-tainted Ashwini Akkunji in the women’s 4x400m relay team in was put to an end by the competition technical delegate on the ground that it would violate IAAF rules.