Another proud moment for India after a long wait of 36 years. Manjit Singh won an award in 800 m run and made all Indians proud of his achievement.
Manjit Singh won Gold in the four-lap run he for India yesterday. It was a day on which it lost two compound archery team finals and PV Sindhu gold-medal match, while men’s table tennis team settled for a maiden bronze and India reached 50 medals at the 18th Asian Games here yesterday.
Manjit led India’s top-two finish in the 800 metres race with Jinson Johnson, while 4x400 metres relay team, comprising Mohamed Anas, Rajiv Arokia, Hima Das and MR Poovamma, claimed silver, even as Pinky Balhara clinched silver, and Malaprabha Jadav settled for the bronze in the women’s 52kg category of the kurash competition.
Among other success stories of the day, Indian men’s hockey team thrashed Sri Lanka to top Pool A and reach the semi-finals, while Dutee Chand stormed into the women’s 200 metres final after topping the semi-finals.
However, India endured defeats in the gold medal matches in archery to teams from South Korea. While the Indian women’s team of Muskan Kirar, Madhumita Kumari and Jyothi Vennam lost 228-231, the men’s team comprising Rajat Chauhan, Aman Saini and Abhishek Verma lost in the final which ended in a shootout after both teams were locked 229-229.
Sindhu also had to settle for a historic silver after going down 13-21, 16-21 in just 34 minutes to World No.1 Tai Tzu-ying of Taiwan in the women’s singles final.
The defeat meant that Sindhu became the first Indian to win an individual silver medal in badminton at the Asiad. It was also the first Asiad individual medal for Sindhu.
It was Sindhu’s third loss in the finals of major competitions in 2018, after defeats at the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships.
In athletics, 28-year-old Manjit ended India’s 36-year drought in men’s 800-metre competition with a timing of 1:46.15s, 0.20s faster than Jinson, the Asian Championship medallist from Kerala.
With four of the eight athletes running parallel, Manjit shocked everyone as the Haryana athlete displayed a stunning run in the final 40 metres.
Dutee remained in the hunt for her second medal as she timed 23.00 seconds in 200m semis, even as rising star Hima was disqualified following a false start.
In table tennis, Indian men’s team had to be content with a first-ever bronze medal following a 0-3 loss to South Korea in the semi-finals. G. Sathiyan, Achanta Sharath Kamal and Anthony Amalraj went down fighting in their respective matches.
In hockey, striker Akashdeep Singh scored six goals, while Rupinder Pal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh and Mandeep Singh struck thrice each as India fired 20 goals past Sri Lanka. Lalit Kumar Upadhyay netted two goals while Vivek Sagar Prasad, Amit Rohidas and Dilpreet Singh scored one each. India will now face Malaysia in the semi-final tomorrow.
In squash, India’s men’s and women’s team remained in firm contention to reach the semi-finals with group stage wins yesterday.
Manjit Singh’s wife Kiran Devi was showing their five-month-old son Abhir the medal ceremony on television at their home at Narwana near Jind. Singh, who became the third Indian athlete to win a gold medal in this year’s Asian Games after Tajinder Toor and Neeraj Chopra, has not yet met his son since he was born and Singh’s gold medal on Tuesday meant it would also be an end to the long wait for his family.
“Since Abhir was born, my husband has not come home, instead training in Ooty and Bhutan. Even though he has been training without a job, he makes sure that he keeps sending Abhir gifts. But this gold medal is the biggest gift for him. When he returns, he would put the gold medal around his neck,” Kiran says.
“Manjit had an offer from Indian Railways earlier, but he did not want to shift his focus from training. In our dairy business, we often sell buffaloes to places like Mumbai and the earnings were not that good during those years. When he was not selected for 2014 CWG and Asian games, he was a bit disappointed but he told us that he cannot leave training. So we would send him Rs 20,000 every month,” remembers Chahal.
“Manjit came to train under me when 2014 Asian Games bronze medallist Naveen Kumar told him about the training in Bareilly. The end of contract with ONGC meant that Manjit had added some weight as he missed training for some time. So we made him have juice and fruits only for some months. At the centre, most of the trainees are soldiers and sometimes, they take holidays but Manjit never took a leave. ‘Medal jeetna hai desh ke liye, sir’ was what he would tell us. But he knew that with time, he will nearing 28. Last year’s silver medal in nationals felt like a new life for him,” the coach said.
As for the Chahal family, it will be barfi and kalakand when Manjit returns to Narwana. “Manjit loves barfi and kalakand made by our mother Bimla Devi. When he is at home, he helps in dairy work but he makes sure he gets the fresh milk,” says Manjit’s younger brother Amarjeet.