Manpreet Kaur, Govindan Laxmanan flair the Indian flag at the Asian Athletics Championships

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Hailing from Punjab, Manpreet Kaur helped India to gain its first gold at the Asian Athletics Championships. She made an incredible shot of 18.28m to secure the first position in the shot-put event on the first day of the tournament. Following Manpreet’s feat, Laxmanan followed with gold in the Men’s 5,000m with a timing of 14:54:48. It was a very hard-fought win for the runner after a bronze in the 2015 edition.

Defending champion, Vikas Gowda faltered in the Men’s discus throw and could only manage a bronze which held him from qualifying for the World Championships next month. Overcoming a knee operation this year, he could manage to throw only 60.81m which well below his season best of 62m. Talking to media after his event Gowda said,“Last six months have been challenging for me to get back into good shape. I missed some training but overall it is okay. My focus is to give my best in the 2018 season. Want to win gold at the Commonwealth Games in April and later maintain my performance to earn podium finish in the Asian Games,”

Manpreet qualified for the World Championships in April after her astounding throw of 18.86m at the Asian Grand Prix in China in April. “I was confident of winning the title on home soil and was mentally prepared to cross the 18m mark,” said Manpreet. “There was a bit of pressure but I settled down as the event progressed. My performance today will help me mentally gear up to face stiff challenge in the global competition,”

For Laxmanan too, the next hurdle ahead is the World Championships which he said was his prime focus even before the Asian meet. He is one of India’s trump cards on the field for the WC and we would have to wait and look out for his performance there.

He was behind 4 of his rivals until the final lap of the race. But somehow managed to pull out a sprint at the final 300m to outclass his opponents, “I had been preparing for this day since November last. Had been training with other runners at the high altitude of Ooty. To prepare for humid weather sometimes I trained in the afternoon, it worked out for me as I had enough energy to outclass my rivals in the last lap,” Laxmanan said. Yaser Salem of Qatar claimed silver and Tariq Ahmed of Saudi Arabia managed a bronze behind him.

India also secured a couple of medals from the long jump pit. Neena V secured silver and Nayan James got bronze. In women’s 5,000m, Sanjivini Yadav managed a bronze clocking 16:00:24. Annu Rani improved India’s medal tally securing a bronze in the women’s javelin throw. Overall India finished at the top of the medals tally with seven medals at the end of Day 1 of the tournament with 2 gold, 1 silver, and 4 bronze.

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