Source: The Hitavada      Date: 09 Jul 2017 09:27:57



INDIA clinched one gold through Sudha Singh in women’s 3000m steeplechase event and four other medals to maintain their numero uno position on the third and penultimate day at the 22nd Asian Athletics C h a m p i o n s h i p s here on Saturday. The 31-year-old Sudha won her race in 9 minute 59.47 seconds to grab the lone gold for India to steal the limelight in front of a packed crowd at the Kalinga Stadium. It was Sudha’s first gold in her fourth attempt in the Asian Championship.

Anu Raghavan added a silver in the women’s 400m hurdles, while woman triple jumper NV Sheena, man 400m hurdler Jabir MP and the women’s 4x100m relay team grabbed a bronze as India took one gold, one silver and three bronze on Saturday. With one day left in the championship, India remained on top of the medal tally with 7 gold, 4 silver and 9 bronze.

China are second spot with 5 gold, 6 silver and 4 bronze while Iran are on third with 4 gold and 1 bronze. Sudha, who had also won a silver each in the 2009, 2011 and 2013 editions, was a gold medal contender in the absence of compatriot Lalita Babar, who skipped the event after her recent marriage, and Bahrain’s world and Asian record holder Ruth Jebet.

The Uttar Pradesh athlete led from the very beginning, and after running together for a while along with the other five competitors, broke away around the halfway mark and left all her rivals way behind to win the gold. She took a lap of honour after her win which also ensured her a berth in next month’s World Championship in London.

It was a creditable sub-10 minute win for Sudha who has been away from training for several months after she suffered from swine flu on her return from the Rio Olympics last year. North Korea’s 18-year-old Hyo Gyong was a distant second in 10:13.94 while Japan’s Nana Sato took the bronze in 10:18.11. “I am very happy to win this gold. This is my top level competition after Rio Olympics. I was down with swine flu after the Rio Olympics and I was down for fivesix months and after that I started training slowly and steadily.”