On 10th day at Incheon Asian Games, Seema Punia made a golden start for India in discus. She hurled her disc to a distance of 61.03m, ahead of her immediate Chinese challengers in the fourth attempt and walked away with her first ever Asian Games Gold medal. Later in the day, India’s gold haul rose to 6, when Sania Mirza and Saketh Myneni combined well to win the tennis gold in mixed doubles. However, the day also saw scattered performances from India’s other participants with some hopeful missing medals expected of them.
Despite winning the discus gold, Seema was far below her best on Monday. Coming to Incheon fresh with a silver in Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Seema couldn’t even reach her personal best of 61.91. Probably affected by damp conditions, Seema looked out-of-sorts until the third attempt, when she went marginally ahead of China’s Xiaoxin Lu. But her fourth-round effort of 61.03m proved good enough for the gold. The defending champion and Seema’s compatriot Krishna Poonia turned up a dismal show and made some terrible throws to finish fourth.
Earlier, India won two more bronze medals in the track-and-field. In women’s 1500m, Kerala-born Jaisha finished third and army-man Naveen Kumar also came third in men’s 3000m steeplechase. The shortly-built Jaisha planned her run pretty well. She was content to keep a calculated pace in running behind double gold-medal winner and defending 1500m champion, Bahrain’s Maryam Kamal and dug into her deep reserves for the home stretch in the last part of the race. At the start of the last lap, Jaisha was overtaken by 2010 Asian Games Gold winner in 5000m, Bahraini Mimi Belete. Maryam also came from behind and Jaisha was left at the third spot. In the end, Maryam defended her gold in 4:09.90 and Mimi got the silver in 4:11.03 ahead of Jaisa’s bronze in 4:13.46. The other bronze for India came from Naveen Kumar in steeplechase with personal best efforts of 8:40.39. Kumar finished third behind gold medal winner Qatar’s Abubaker Ali Kamal, who clocked 8:28.72 with Bahrain’s Tareq Mubarak getting the silver in 8:39.62. The track-and-field performance of other Indians left a lot to be desired. In men’s high jump, Nikhil Chittarasu missed his own best mark and could only clear 2.10m to go out of medal contention and in women’s long jump, MA Prajusha and Mayookha Johnny finished eighth and ninth in a field of 12. The only hope came from 4x400m relay team of Muhammed Kunhu, Joseph Abraham, Jithin Paul, Arokia Rajiv, who qualified for the final race on October 2.
India’s second gold medal of the day came from the mixed doubles tennis team of Sania Mirza and Saketh Myneni. They defeated top seeds from Chinese Taipei, Hsien Yin Peng and Hao Ching Chan 6-4, 6-3 in the final. Sania knew that her partner Saketh Myneni would join her, after playing a long match in the men’s doubles earlier and made the necessary adjustments to put him at ease. While Myneni combined well with Sania and won the final, he was not so lucky earlier. The India’s men’s doubles team had to remain content with silver as Sanam Singh/Saketh Myneni lost 5-7, 6-7 to Korea’s gold-medal winners, Yongkyu Lim & Hyeon Chung. It was hat-trick of sorts for Sania Mirza, who won the mixed doubles gold medals with Leander Paes in Doha 2006 and with Vishnu Vardhan in Guangzhou 2010.
India’s wrestlers continued to perform well after Yogeshwar Dutt’s gold on Sunday. Bajrang Kumar got silver after losing in the final of 61kg class against Iranian Esmaeil Masoud and Narsingh Yadav won the bronze by defeating Japan’s Shimada Daisuke in 74kg. However, in 86kg freestyle, Pawan Kumar went out of medal contention.
The boxing ring didn’t bring much cheer to Indians on Monday. Kuldeep Singh lost 3-0 to Ehsan Rouzbahani of Iran in men’s light heavyweight quarterfinal, while Mandeep Jangra also went down by the same margin to Thailand’s Apichet Saensit in welterweight class. The other boxer to disappoint was Gaurav Bidhuri in 52 kg flyweight who lost to Shakhobiddin Zoirov of Uzbekistan. The only one to yield a good performance was Vikas Krishan, who entered the middleweight quarterfinals after defeating Kyrgyzstan’s Azamat Kanybek.
After entering the finals of several canoeing events on Monday, Indian rowers could not come anywhere near the medal-winning zone. Ajit Sha and Raju Rawat finished fifth in the men’s C2 1000m, Gaurav Tomar finished seventh in the men’s C1 1000m final, while Albert Raj Selvaraj came 8th in the K1 1000m. The women’s team of Biju Anusha, Ragina Kiro, Soniya Devi and Nanao Devi finished last in the women’s 500m.
In women’s hockey, India lost to Korea 1-3 in the semifinal match to set up a bronze medal clash with Japan and the women’s basketball team beat Mongolia to meet Kazakhstan in the 5th place play-off. In table tennis, the women’s doubles team of Poulomi Ghatak and Ankita Das defeated the Pakistani pair of Rahila Kashif and Shabnam Bilal to move to the next round. Poulomi had earlier lost in the mixed doubles match with Sharath Kamal.
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