Wuhan: Tintu Luka bagged her maiden gold in a major international event by winning the women’s 800m finals as India finished with five medals on the final day of competitions to sign off third in the 21st Asian Athletics Championships (AAC) in Wuhan on Monday.
India secured a medal haul of 4 gold, 5 silver and 4 bronze in the championships to finish third behind China (15, 13, 13) and Qatar (7, 2, 1). Japan (4, 3, 11) and Bahrain (3, 3, 2) finished fourth and fifth respectively.
This was India’s best finish after 2007 in Amman, Jordan where the country was placed second.
National record holder Luka clocked her season’s best timing of 2:01.53 to clinch the gold at Wuhan Sports Center. China’s Zhao Jing (2:03.40) took the silver while Sri Lankan Nimali Klarachchige (2:03.94) won the bronze.
This was 26-year-old Luka’s first individual title in a major international event after breaking into the scene in 2008-09 with a lot of promise under the tutelage of the legendary P T Usha. She had won gold as part of the 4x400m relay teams in both 2013 Asian Championships and 2014 Asian Games. Her national record stands at 1:59.17 which she clockedbat the Continental Cup in Croatia in 2010. Since then, she had been able to breach the two-minute mark on very few occasions.
With the gold on Monday, Luka has qualified for the Beijing World Championships in August as continental championship winner. She is yet to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics for which the standard is 2:01.00.