Bhubaneswar: Indian interests on the opening day of the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships were high with national record holder Muhammed Anas easing into the semi-finals of the men’s 400m in the morning session.
Incheon Asian Games bronze medalist Arokia Rajiv sailed through in first place in Heat 2 of the same race, just as the third Indian participant in the competition, Amoj Jacob also eased into the next round with a first-place finish in Heat 3. The semi-finals will be held in the evening session.
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Anas finished second in Heat 1 behind Sri Lanka’s Dilip Ruwan, while Arokia and Jacob led through the majority of their respective heats to qualify into the next rounds. Asian indoor championships bronze medalist Ahmed Mubarak of Oman was the winner of Heat 4.
The Asian Athletics Championships kicked off at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar today, with Chitra PU qualifying for the semi-finals from Heat 2 in the women’s 1500m, while Monika Chaudhary finished in fourth place in Heat 1.
In the men’s 1500m, India’s Ajay Kumar Saroj set the pace in Heat 1 of the event and Siddharth Adhikary qualified from Heat 2 with a second-place finish behind Asian Games bronze medal winner Jamal Hairane of Qatar.
In the men’s decathlon that kickstarted the proceedings today, Japan’s Kazuya Kawasaki took an early lead with the 100m sprint leg of the event. India’s Abhishek Shetty was playing catch-up in a strong field that includes Asian Championships silver medalist Guo Qi from China.
The men’s high jump also got under way with China’s Asian Games silver medalist Zhang Guowei and others setting a modest qualification standard of 2.10m. In the evening session on Day 1, national record-holding discus thrower Vikas Gowda will hope to make it a hat-trick of Asian Championship titles after winning gold in Wuhan (2015) and Pune (2013).
China’s Ding Bangchao, who cleared the bar at 5.70m in Jinan on May 18, will headline the men’s pole vault final, with still challenge coming from Japan’s Masaki Ejima and Husain Asim Al-Hizam of Saudi Arabia. The 5000m will see both the men and women lining up for their respective finals, while the women take the field in the javelin, shot put and long jump finals as well.
The opening day will be spiced up with the heats of the men’s 100m, which includes the Asian record holder and defending champion Femi Seun Ogunode of Qatar, with national champion and local boy Amiya Kumar Mallick hoping to put up a strong show.