On the day she turned 27, Manpreet Kaur had her head in her hands. She couldn’t bear to look as she had faulted both her fifth and sixth throws. Her nervousness was understandable as her Chinese rival Guo Tianqian had thrown a 17.91 metres on her fourth attempt.
Kaur needn’t have worried. Tianqian managed a distance of 17.62 metres on her sixth and final attempt and the gold was Manpreet’s as had been expected from the start. Her first, a 17.52m and her third, the gold-medal winning attempt of 18.28m were her only legitimate attempts from among the six.
Manpreet who came into this meet with a season best of 18.86 metres was always the favourite to win the competition.
Kaur, who gave up the sport in 2010, only to return in 2013, admitted that the pressure of expectations had almost worn her down, “After you throw a 18.86, there are obviously some people who expect you to do even better.” The weather didn’t make it any easier for her either, “These were challenging conditions because of the high humidity and hence it wasn’t easy to get a grip on the ball. Considering that, I’m delighted with my performance. And a gold is a gold, no matter what.”
Later the mother of a 5-year-old girl, was joking with local cameramen and threatened to speak in Punjabi if they questioned her in Odia.
Lakshmanan clinches 5000m gold
If local favourite Dutee Chand’s running got the crowd going, Govindan Lakshmanan absolutely raised the roof off the Kalinga Stadium on Thursday evening.
The 27-year old Army man from Kavinadu village in Tamil Nadu had built up a sizeable lead on the back of a blistering run and pointed to the crowd even before he had finished his run, post which his arms extended upward in a thankful gesture towards the heavens.
Lakshmanan, who has won the 5000 metres four years running in the annual Federation Cup, had bagged a bronze in the same event at Wuhan two years ago and a silver in the 10000 at the same tourney.
The gold medal also gave him a direct spot in the World Championships in London next month.
Gowda manages 60.81m throw for bronze
Earlier, the Discus Throw final lived up to the hype with Vikas Gowda battling gamely but in the end, falling short of a third straight gold at the AAC. He had won the event in Wuhan and Pune.
Gowda started with a 54 before gradually raising the bar, while Iran’s Ehsan Hadidi, the 2012 London silver medallist, was on song from throw one as his first attempt cleared 61 metres.
Hadidi then eventually notched up a 63.76 on his fifth and penultimate attempt while closing with a 64.54 metres, leaving Malaysian Muhammad Irfan and Gowda a distant second and third. For a moment, it looked like Gowda’s fourth throw of 60.81 metres might have fetched him a silver but the Malaysian’s fifth throw of 60.96 metres pipped the Indian’s effort into second.
The 34-year-old, who had to undergo two trials before being given a clearance to participate in the event, said, “I had been struggling to find my technique for the last couple of weeks, so in that regard I think I did okay. Because of the short arrival it took me a couple of days to acclimatize, but these things are a part of it.”
Other medals by Indians:
Women’s Long Jump: Neena V (Silver), Nayana James (Bronze)
Women’s Javelin Throw: Annu Rani (Bronze)
Women’s 5000 metres: Sanjivani Jadhav (Bronze)