Shot putter Manpreet Kaur and long distance runner G Lakshmanan grabbed gold medals on a remarkable opening day for India at the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships as the hosts won seven medals to sit atop the medal tally.
V Neena and Nayan James bagged a silver and bronze in women’s long jump while Vikas Gowda, Sanjivini Yadav, Annu Rani added a bronze each in the men’s discus throw, women’s 5000m race and javelin throw respectively. Heavyweights China ended the day in second position with one gold and two silver medals.
Birthday girl Manpreet opened India’s gold medal account with a career second best throw of 18.28m. She upstaged defending champion Chinese Guo Tianqian to give herself a perfect birthday gift at the packed Kalinga Stadium. Tianqian took the silver with a best throw of 17.91m while Aya Ota of Japan got the bronze with 15.45m.
She was expected to win the gold today as she was best this season — 18.86m at Asian Grand Prix in Jianhua (China)) in April — among the eight competitors in the absence of world number four Gong Lijiao of China (19.56m). The Asian Championships winner gets automatic berth for the World Championships to be held in London next month but Manpreet, who hails from a village near Patiala in Punjab, has already qualified for the global flagship event with her own national record-improving effort of 18.86 in China.