Indian athletics achieves gold-silver finish in men’s 800m after a gap 67 years when Ranjit Singh and Kulwant Singh won at the inaugural Games in 1951 New Delhi
Jakarta: Manjit Singh came up with a pure kick out of nowhere to stun his running partner Jinson Johnson as India snapped up a gold and silver medal in the prime middle distance event-the men’s 800m-which once was India’s forte thanks to runners such as Sriram Singh.
On an otherwise lean day of Indian athletics at the 18th Asian Games in Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, Manjit punched well above his waist when he produced the kick that is being talked about, less than 200m remaining from the finish line to first startle Johnson and then the Qatari runner Abubaker Abdalla as he crossed the finish line in 1 minute 46.15 seconds.
A rare Indian one-two
Johnson came in close second in 1:46.35 to match India’s 1-2 finish in 1951 Games when Ranjit Singh and Kulwant Singh won at the National Stadium in New Delhi.
Later, Sriram Singh made 800m his own when he first won silver in 1970 Bangkok Games before winning back-to-back gold medals in 1974 Tehran and 1978 Bangkok.
Back at home in 1982, Charles Borromeo maintained India’s supremacy by winning the gold medal with Games Record, but then 800 metre slipped out of India’s grip as that was the last gold India had before Manjit won on Tuesday.
The surprise kick
The 28-year-old Manjit was in fifth place for the majority of the race with Abubaker leading Johnson till the 600m mark. Manjit put in the hard strides towards the final bend, and went past Bahrain’s Abraham Rotich, before brushing aside Iran’s Amir Moradi to bring himself up to stride with the front two. Once he left Johnson behind, he took Abdalla out of the picture closer to the finishing line.
The top three runners were separated by just 0.23s, indicating the close nature of finish.
Johnson, who recently broke Sriram Singh’s national record, went in as a gold medal favourite after having won his semi-final heat. Manjit, in fact, had qualified for the final as the eighth fastest runner.
With a personal best of 1:48.48, Manjit was far from a medal contender at the start of the race-he in fact struggled to qualify for the final on Monday, but this was some revelation from a jobless and unheralded runner.
Johnson, who had topped the heat with a timing of 1:47.39, was the hot favourite after the two finished 1-2 at the Federation Cup in March this year too but then Johnson had taken the gold.
“I wanted to win a medal here. The colour of the medal was not my criteria but hard work paid off,” said Manjit.
Coached by India Army’s Amreesh Kumar, Manjit bettered his personal best mark of 1:46.24s set in Guwahati this year at the Nationals to claim his maiden major international medal.
While others did not give him a chance, Manjit said he was determined to do prove his worth.
“I saw videos of my races at national and international competitions and analysed the mistakes. I was motivated to improve myself,” Manjit, who lives in Jind, said.
Expected for Manjit
It is not first time that Manjit beat Johnson as he had defeated the Kerala athlete in Pune also in 2013.
“I was very hopeful. I had prepared accordingly. I never thought of bettering the national mark. I just wanted to give my best. I don’t have a job but my coach is from the Army,” Manjit said.
Manjit said he trained in Ooty for the last one-and-a-half years apart from Bhutan for three months ahead of the Asian Games.
“I had prepared well. I had strategised to follow runners initially and then push towards last 100-150m. I did it and won gold for my country,” an elated Manjit said.
A lot of middle-eastern countries have imported physically strong African athletes to power their athletics squad but Manjit said he was confident to outshine them.
“Indian athletes are doing well. Tejinderpal Singh Toor and Neeraj Chopra had won gold and that also motivated me. Even those who won silver, they have won with national record,” he said.
“I have seen Neeraj growing up in the last 1-2 years. Such performances inspire you.”
Jonhson said Manjit was outstanding and deserved to win.
“He really ran well that’s why he finished first. he was outstanding,” the silver medallist said.
India win mixed relay silver
India won silver with a timing of 3:15.71 in the mixed 4x400m relay, an event which made its debut at the Asian Games. Bahrain claimed gold with a mark of 3:11.89.
For India, 400m silver medalist Muhammad Anas started the race, with both the female team members MR Poovamma and Hima Das thrown in the middle, while Arokia Rajiv anchored it to the finish.
Dutee, Hima enter semis
Indian athletes Dutee Chand and Hima Das qualified for the women’s 200 metres semi-finals. Dutee won Heat 4 in 23.37 seconds which earned her a direct spot in the semi-finals.
She was second in the overall standings at the end of the first round, behind Nigina Sharipova of Uzbekistan, who won Heat 3 with a personal best time of 23.31.
Hima clocked 23.47 to finish fourth in Heat 2, just 200th of a second short of a direct semis berth as Marie Knot of the Philippines took the third spot.
But the sprinter from Assam earned a berth the semi-finals as one of the fastest losers in the heats as she was seventh in the overall standings.
110m Hurdles: 1. Wenjun Xie (Chn) 13.34s; 2. Kueiru Chen (Tpe) 13.39; 3. Shunya Takayama (Jpn) 13.48.
800m: 1. Manjit Singh (Ind) 1:46.15; 2. Jinson Johnson (Ind) 1:46.35; 3. Abubaker Abdalla (Qat) 1:46.38.
800m: 1. Chunyu Wang (Chn) 2:01.80; 2. Margarita Mukasheva (Kaz) 2:02.40; Manal Elbahraoui (Brn) 2:02.69.
5000m: 1. Kalkidan Befkadu (Brn) 15:08.08; 2. Daria Maslova (Kgz) 15:30.57; 3. Bontu Rebitu(Brn) 15:36.78...5. Suriya Loganathan (Ind) 15:49.30…7. Sanjivani Jadhav (Ind) 15:52.96.
Pole vault: 1. Ling Li (Chn) 4.60m GR; 2. Chayanisa Chomchuendee (Tha) 4.30; 3. Eunji Lim (Kor) 4.20.
Javelin throw: 1. Shiying Liu (Chn) 66.09m GR; 2. Huihui Lyu (Chn) 63.16; 3. Gyeong Ae Gim (Kor) 56.74…6. Annu Rani (Ind) 53.93.
4x400m relay: 1. Bahrain (Ali Khamis, Oluwakemi, Salwa Naser, Abbas Abbas) 3:11.89; 2. India (Mohammed Anas Yahiya, Poovamma RM, Hima Das, Rajiv Arokia) 3:15.71; 3. Kazakhstan (Svetlana Golendova, Dmitriy Koblov, Elina Mikhina, Mikhail Litvin) 3:19.52.
Indian performance in Men’s 800m at Asian Games
When Manjit Singh and Jinson Johnson won Gold and Silver, it was only second time India had 1-2 finish in 800m
1951: Ranjit Singh (1:59.3) GR, gold; Kulwant Singh (1:59.7), silver
1954: Sohan Singh Dharoa, silver
1962: Daljit Singh (1:52.6), silver; Amrit Pal (1:53.4), bronze.
1966: Bhogeswar Baruah (1:49.4) GR, gold
1970: Sriram Singh (1:48.3), silver
1974: Sriram Singh (1:47.57), gold
1978: Sriram Singh (1:48.8), gold
1982: Charles Borromeo (1:46.81) GR, gold
2002: KM Binu (1:47.57), silver