PU Chitra produced a strong run from start to finish to emerge as the women’s 1500m champion at the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha on Wednesday to clinch India’s third gold medal of the ongoing event.

The Kerala athlete defended her title from 2017 when she also won gold at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar. In 2018, she won the bronze at this event in Asian Games.

Chitra clocked a timing of 4:14.56 to finish ahead of Gashaw tigest and Winfred Mutile Yavi (both from Bahrain).

“Got a little nervous towards the end being next to the Bahraini runner (Gashaw Tigest). She beat me to third place in Asian Games. I had to really push hard in the end,” Chitra told Athletics Federation of India.

In the men’s race that followed Chitra’s, India’s Ajay Kumar Saroj produced a stunning final push in the final 100 metres to clinch the silver in men’s 1500m final. It was a photo-finish for the second spot and Ajay’s sprint was enough to push him past Qatar’s Musaab Ali. Both of them were clocked at 3:43.18 with Ajay shading it by a thousandth of a second.

One of India’s traditionally strong events, the 4x400m women’s relay, saw the team of Prachi, MR Poovamma, Saritaben Gayakwad and VK Vismaya clinch silver medal. It was a fine run by the Indian women in the absence of Hima Das as they finished with a season-best timing. They were looking good for gold but then the incredible Salwa Naser had other ideas, as she obliterated the field in the final leg to clinch the top spot for Bahrain.

UPDATE: There was late disappointment for India as the men’s 4x400m relay team was disqualified. It looked like they had made it a silver double on the night, but the team of Kunhu Md, KS Jeevan, Muhammed Anas and Arokia Rajiv (who originally finished second with a time of 3:03.28 secs, behind Japan) was deemed to have obstructed an athlete under rule 163.2.

Earlier, it was a case of third time lucky for Indian sprinter Dutee Chand as she clinched the bronze medal in the women’s 200m final.

Dutee Chand clocked a season-best 23.24 seconds in the final on her way to the bronze which was India’s 14th medal at the ongoing championships. It was a photo-finish for the third place as Chand produced a fantastic final kick to catch up with Bahrain’s Edidiong Odiong and was deemed to have finished third only by a thousandth of a second.

It was a well deserved medal for the sprinter from Odisha who had set a couple of national records in the 100m races preceding the final, before finishing a disappointing fifth in the race that mattered. She also missed out on a medal in the 4x100m event.

“I am really very happy. I missed a medal in 100m and relay. I put too much effort in 100m, was not sure of a medal in 200m. Just did my best and I am happy,” Chand told AFI.

Pre-race favourite Salwa Naser completed the 200m-400m double with a championship record timing. The winner of the 100m event, Olga Safronova, finished with a sliver medal.

In women’s discus throw, Navjeet Kaur (57.47m) finished fourth with a season-best throw while Kamalpreet Kaur (55.59m) finished fifth in the finals.

In the men’s 5000m final, Gavit Murali finished fifth with 13:48.99 (his personal best) and Abhishek Pal was placed sixth with 13:56.09.

India finished the event with 3 gold, 7 silver and 7 bronze medals for a total of 17 finishes on the podium.

(Clarification: The article originally said India won 18 medals but the silver-medal winning 4x400m relay team was disqualified)