The 5th Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games have proved to be a major shot in the arm for Indian athletes. After Purnima Hembram, Govindan Lakshmanan & PU Chitra clinched a gold each in men’s 5000m and women’s 1500m races while Dharmender won the bronze in men’s freestyle 70kg belt wrestling as India’s medal count swelled to 3 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze.
India are now at ninth spot in the medal tally. Hosts Turkmenistan consolidated their top spot with 39 gold, 27 silver and 18 bronze. Lakshmanan added an indoor gold to his 5000m outdoor title in the Asian Championships in Bhubaneswar in July as he clocked 8 minute and 2.30 seconds to run away winner at the Indoor Athletics Arena here. Dharmender won the bronze in men’s freestyle 70kg belt wrestling. He lost to Annamyradow Ýagsymyrat of Turkmenistan in the semifinals. Both the semifinalists gets a bronze each.
Chitra, whose omission from India’s team for the London World Championships last month had created a furore and led to a court case, clocked 4 minute 27.77 seconds to win the gold in the women’s 1500m race. She had won the outdoor gold in the Asian Championships in Bhubaneswar in 4:17.92. India’s top sprinter Dutee Chand missed out on a mefal by a whisker as she finished fourth with a time of 7.44 seconds in women’s 60m dash. She was a one-hundreth of a second behind bronze winner Olga Safronova (7.43 seconds) of Kazakhstan.