India won two gold medals, three silver and as many bronzes on the opening day of athletics at the Asian Games invitational tournament in Jakarta on Sunday.
While the purpose of the competition is to serve as a test event for the Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium, Indian competitors put up a strong show ahead of what will be a busy season. Competing in his first competition of the season, javelin thrower Devinder Singh Kang, the bronze medalist at last year’s Asian Championships stamped Indian dominance in the event.
Kang, a finalist at the 2017 World Championships, recorded a best effort of 75.87m to finish ahead of Ranasinghe Denagamage of Sri Lanka who had a best effort of 75.39m. 18-year-old Sachin Silwal added bronze for India with a best effort of 68.12m. Kang who recently began training under former world record holder Uwe Hohn, appeared out of touch initially and was trailing Denagamage until his final effort before producing a mark that put the gold medal out of reach of the Sri Lankan.
Sonia Baishya would add to India’s medal tally with a gold in the women’s 400m. Baishya, 22, would run the quarter mile in a time of 53.53seconds, to pip teammate Nithya Shree Ananda who clocked 54.34 seconds. It was a personal best for the West Bengal athlete beating her previous best by .45 seconds. Jithu Baby added a silver to India’s kitty with a strong performance in the men’s 400m. Jithu, the reigning gold medalist at the Indian National Open Championships claimed gold with a time of 46.88 seconds to finish .05 seconds behind Pattiya Mullewaththe of Sri Lanka.
Another two medals were added by V Neena and Nayana James in the women’s long jump event. Neena, holder of the longest jump after Anju Bobby George, was nowhere near her best but still managed a leap of 6.42m. She finished ahead of compatriot James who cleared 6.16m in her final jump of the competition.
The result mirrored the competition between the two at last month’s Asian Indoor Championships, where James, the reigning Asian Champion had claimed silver and Neena the bronze medal. Competing in their first competition of the season, most Indian athletes appeared to be working their way into form. The exception though would be Elakiyadasan Kannadasan.
The Tamil Nadu sprinter had the worst possible start, with the slowest reaction time (.152 seconds) and the disadvantage of running in the outermost lane. Despite this, Elakkiya Dasan clocked a credible personal best of 10.38 seconds to claim a bronze medal in the 100m in just his first outdoor competition of the season. Elakiyadasan has been in impressive start to the year. Running in the Asian Indoor championships in Tehran in January, Elakkiyadasan had claimed bronze. With the season only warming up, the 22-year-old would be expecting to push himself even further with hopes of qualifying for the Commonwealth Games.