Asian Games athletics: Ashwini, Abraham make it a golden double

Guangzhou, Nov 25 (IANS) Ashwini Chidananda and Joseph Abraham made it a golden double for India by winning the women’s and men’s 400 metres hurdles at the Asian Games here Thursday.

The lone bronze medal of the day in athletics came from Tintu Luka in the women’s 800 metres at the Aoti Main Stadium

In the women’s 400m hurdles, Ashwini clinched the gold medal with a personal best timing of 56.15 seconds. It was also the best timing by an Indian in 25 years.

Ashwini’s compatriot Juana Murmu missed the bronze by a whisker as she finished fourth in 56.88 secs. Both the Indians had topped their heats.

The silver went to China’s Wang Xing with a timing of 56.76 secs and Japan’s Satomi Kubokokura got the bronze with a timing of 56.83 secs.

For Ashwini the gold was special as it was only in 2010 that she took to hurdles and the final was her sixth competitive race. Ashwini, who hails from Karnataka, started with 800m and then shifted to 400m. Before Ashwini, M.D.Valsamma (1982) and P.T.Usha (1986) had won the Asian Games gold medal in 400m hurdles.

In the men’s event, Abraham won the gold with his season’s best timing of 49.96 secs. It was also India’s maiden gold in the men’s 400m hurdles. Teja Singh had won a silver at the inaugural games in 1951 while Lehan Singh got a bronze in 1974.

Bandar Yahya Sharahili (50.29 secs) of Saudi Arabia took silver and Japan’s Naohiro Kawakita bronze (50.37 secs).

The two gold medals took India’s gold count from the track and field to four and ninth overall at the Guangzhou Games.

Tintu Luka also won the bronze medal in the women’s 800 metres event. Tintu, who had a disappointing finish in the New Delhi Commonwealth Games, led the pack right from the start, but couldn’t keep pace in the last 50 metres and finished third with a timing of 2:01.36 seconds.

The gold went to Kazhakstan’s Margarita Matsko with her personal best timing of 2:00.29 secs while Chinese Truong Thanh Hang with a timing of 2:00.91 secs grabbed the silver. Tintu’s compatriot Sinimole Paulose finished seventh in 2:06.95 secs.