PU Chitra led the charge with a gold in women's 1500m race as India picked up four medals on the fourth and final day of competitions to end at fourth at the medal tally in the Asian Athletics Championships on Wednesday. Chitra was the defending champion in the event but with runners like Bahrain’s former under-18 World champion Gashaw Tigest in the fray, one thought that life would be tough for the 23-year-old from Palakkad.
In the previous edition of the Championships held in Bhubaneshwar, India had topped the medal tally with 17 medals and likewise, in this edition, India kept the medal count intact at 17 but finished 4th on the table.
But Chitra brilliantly overtook Bahrain’s Winfred Yavi, who had already won two golds here earlier, on the last curve and then beat a tiring Gashaw on the home stretch to take the gold in 4:14.56s and book her World Championships berth. Gashaw, whose personal best was nearly six seconds faster than Chitra’s, took the silver in 4:14.81.
Ajay Kumar Saroj, probably inspired by Chitra, almost tried out a similar strategy in the men’s 1500m and was rewarded with a silver in a photo finish. Abraham Rotich won the gold with a time of 3:42.85s while defending champion Ajay Kumar and Qatar’s Musaab Ali were credited with a similar time (3:43.18s) but the Indian was slight ahead at the finish.
One of the star attractions of the day was definitely Dutee Chand. The 23-year-old from Jajpur had broken two National Records on the first 2 days of the tournament and created quite the buzz.
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