India made a phenomenal start to the Asian Athletic Championships which they are hosting in Bhuvneshwar, as shot putter Manpreet Kaur and long distance runner G Lakshmanan grabbed gold medals on day one of the event. India claimed 7 medals in total on day one and currently sit atop the medal tally.
Manpreet Kaur celebrated her 27th birthday in style as she opened India's gold medal account at the event, with a throw of 18.28-meter throw, the second-best of her career, so far. But more importantly, the effort was enough to upstage Chinese defending champion Guo Tianqian, in front of a packed Kalinga Stadium.
Tianqian took the silver with a best throw of 17.91m, while Aya Ota of Japan got the bronze with 15.45m. Manpreet was a favourite to win on an opening day as she was the best among the eight competitors, in the absence of world number four Gong Lijiao of China (19.56m). with figures of 18.86m at Asian Grand Prix in Jianhua (China)) in April.
Though the Asian Championships winner gets an automatic berth for the World Championships to be held in London next month, Manpreet has already qualified for the prestigious event with her own national record-improving effort of 18.86 in China.
The 27-year-old Lakshmanan then pulled off an upset as he clinched India’s second gold on the day with an unexpected win in men's 5000m race. Lakshmanan is no stranger to the podium as he won bronze in the previous edition of the games in 2013. However, on Thursday he managed to raise the stakes even higher, as he bagged top honours in 14 minutes 54.48 seconds. Yaser Salem of Qatar finished second in 14:55.89, while Tariq Ahmed of Saudi Arabia took the bronze in 14:56.83.
India also bagged one silver and one bronze in women's long jump through V Neena and Nayan James who cleared distances of 6.54m and 6.42m respectively. Vietnam's Bui Thi Thu took home gold with a best jump 6.54m, the same as that of Neena, but adjudged the winner as her second-best effort of 6.44m was better than that of the Indian's 6.32m.
In the women's’ 5000m long distance race, Sanjivini Yadav added to India's medal tally with a bronze with a time of 16 minute and 00.24 seconds, behind Kyrgyzstan's Daria Maslova (15:57.95) and UAE's Alia Mohammed (15:59.95).
The men’s discus throw saw a bit of a disappointment for India as Vikas Gowda failed to defend his title. Gowda, however, managed to claim bronze with a best effort of 60.81m. Gowda fell short to his long-time nemesis on the Asian circuit Ehsan Haddadi of Iran, who took the gold with a best throw of 64.54m while Malaysia's Muhammad Irfan took the silver with 60.96m.
Finally, Annu Rani ended a highly productive day for the host as she bagged bronze in Javelin Throw with an effort of 57.32m.
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