Indian track and field athletes clinched four medals, including a gold, as they got off their campaign at the 2018 Asian Junior Championships to a strong start here today.
Ashish Jakhar was the star among the Indians on the opening day as he set a junior national record en route to winning a gold medal in the men’s hammer throw event.
Jakhar, a former gold medallist at the 2016 Asian Junior Championships, threw the 6kg iron ball and chain to a distance of 76.86m at the Gifu Nagaragawa Stadium to shatter the previous mark of 75.04m that he himself had set at the Junior Federation Cup in April.
Jakhar began strongly with a throw of 74.97m in his first attempt before managing to set a new national mark in his second effort. He was joined on the podium by compatriot Damneet Singh who also managed a personal best of 74.08m to clinch the silver medal.
Singh, the 2017 World Youth silver medallist, bettered his previous best effort of 70.37m recorded at the Junior Federation Cup earlier this year.
After the hammer throwers opened India’s account, Priyadarshini Suresh and long distance runner Poonam Sonune added to the tally with bronze medals in women’s triple jump and women’s 5000m race respectively.
Priyadarshini leaped a personal best of 13.08m in her second jump of the competition. The gold went to Vietnam’s VU Thi Ngoc Ha who cleared a distance of 13.22m while China’s Youqi Pan was second with a best jump of 13.21m.
Maharashtra’s Sonune, who had finished fourth at the Asian Youth Championships in 2016, managed to get on the podium in the final race of the evening — women’s 5000m. She finished third with a timing of 17:03.75 seconds, finishing behind Japan’s Mikuni Yada who clinched gold with a timing of 16:31.65s. China’s Lihua Niu took the silver with a timing of 16:55.54 seconds.
Meanwhile, up and coming quartermiler Jisna Mathew was the fastest across the two heats in the women’s 400 metre race. Defending champion Mathews qualified for the final with a time of 54.78 seconds. Compatriot Rachna, however, failed to qualify for the final after clocking a time of 58.07s to finished fifth in the second heat.
Also fastest across the heats in his event was Ajit Kumar who clocked 3:58.46 seconds in the men’s 1500m race. He has recorded 3:53.21 seconds at the Federation Cup in April.
Also expected to contest for a medal will be his teammate Ankit. The Federation Cup champion qualified in fourth place with a time of 3:51.11 seconds but has a personal best of 3:45.15 seconds.