Jakarta : Swapna Barman became the first Indian heptathlete to win an Asian Games gold while Arpinder Singh ended a 48-year long wait for triple jump victory after Dutee Chand blazed the track for her second silver on an action-packed day of athletics here on Wednesday.
Barman, who has six toes in both her feet, battled sever tooth ache during her event and competed with a tape on her right cheek. Still, she produced her career-best performance by logging 6026 aggregate points from the seven events.
Before Barman, only Bengal’s Soma Biswas and Karnataka’s JJ Shobha and Pramila Aiyappa had returned with a medal from the Asian Games. Biswas and Shobha had finished two-three at both Busan Asian Games (2002) and the Doha Games (2006), while Pramila had won a bronze at the 2010 Guangzhou edition.
“I have got this gold on the National Sports day, so it’s really special. I use normal shoes, worn by people who have normal five toes. It really pains during training. It is very uncomfortable, whether I wear spikes or normal shoes,” Barman said.
Asked if she would like some company to manufacture customised shoes for her, she said, “Definitely. It will make life easy.”
A dehydrated Arpinder jumped 16.77m in his third attempt to win the men’s triple jump gold. India’s last Asian Games gold medal in men’s triple jump had come in 1970 from Mohinder Singh Gill. Arpinder had been without a medal in multi-sporting events since winning a bronze in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
He said his performance dipped because of a training stint in the United Kingdom, where he could not adjust to new training methods.
Wednesday’s mark of Arpinder was, however, well below his season best of 17.09m which he did during the National Inter-State Championships in June, which had put him at number three in the Asian rankings. He has a personal best of 17.17m. He had finished fifth in the 2014 Asian Games.
Arpinder said he had come into the Asian Games looking to break the national record which is in the name of Renjith Maheshwary (17.30m). “It’s gold, so it’s okay but I wanted to go better than the national record. I was dehydrated after three jumps, that’s why there were fouls after that. The performance was going up and down. My calves were hurting,” Arpinder said.
Dutee also added a silver to her kitty by finishing second in the women’s 200m after finishing second in the women’s 100m dash a few days before. She crossed the finishing line in 23.20 seconds, behind Bahrain’s Edidiong Odiong who clinched the gold in 22.96. The bronze went to China’s Wei Yongli (23.27).
The 22-year-old Dutee was not allowed to participate in the 2014 Asian Games as she was serving a ban under the hyperandrogenism policy of the IAAF (international athletics federation).
She filed an appealed against this policy before the Court of Arbitration for Sports and won it. In a recent revision of the IAAF’s hyperandrogenism policy (which bars women athletes having male hormones above permissible limit from competing), Dutee has been left out of its purview.
The rule now applies to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m, hurdles races, 800m, 1500m, one mile races and combined events over the same distances. “I have faced a lot since 2014. No one has gone through such a bad phase. I am glad that I could win two medals for the country. As of now there is no issue but there is no guarantee (of any ban),” the diminutive but gritty Dutee told reporters.
“Yes, there is always this fear that it (the ban) might come back. But more the fear, the harder I train,” said Dutee who was suspended from competing in 2014-2015.
Dutee joined her illustrious compatriots such as PT Usha in the list of athletes who have won more than one medal at the Asian Games. The legendary Usha had swept four gold medals at the 1986 Seoul Games, winning 200m, 400m, 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay. Jyotirmoyee Sikdar (800m and 1500m) had also won two medals at the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games. Sunita Rani (1500m, 5000m) also returned with two medals from the 2002 Busan Games.
Meanwhile, Khushbir Kaur, who won a silver in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, finished fourth in the women’s 20km race walk with a timing of 1:35:24 while compatriot Soumya Baby was disqualified after receiving her third warning for ‘loss of contact’ after the 14km mark.
In men’s 1500m, Jinson Johnson and Manjit Singh made it to the final race at overall second and seventh in the qualification race.
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