Javelin thrower Annu Rani and 3000m steeplechaser Avinash Sable led the charge with a silver each as India won five medals on the opening day of the Asian Athletics Championships on Sunday. Quartermiler M P Poovamma, 5000m runner Parul Choudhary and 10000m runner Gavit Murali Kumar bagged a bronze each on a day which saw sprint sensation Hima Das suffer a lower back spasm during her 400m heat. However, there was no such worry for Dutee Chand as she smashed her own national record in the 100m dash to qualify for the semifinals.
The 26-year-old Annu, who had won a bronze in the 2017 edition in Bhubaneswar, hurled the spear to the best distance of 60.22m to grab the silver. China's Lyu Huihui won the gold with an effort of 65.83m at the Khalifa Stadium. Annu's performance was, however, more than 2m short of her national record-shattering effort of 62.34m during the Federation Cup at Patiala last month, which earned her a berth in the World Championships to be held at the same venue in September-October.
"I was keen on doing well as I knew I had trained well for the event. I was pumped up and would have got my career best had I not thrown from far behind the line," Annu said after winning the medal. The other Indian in the fray, Sharmila Kumari finished seventh with a best throw of 54.48m. Sable clocked 8 minutes 30.19 seconds to win a silver in men's 3000m steeplechase, his first international medal in his maiden international competition.
"I just gave my everything in the last 250m. I am really happy to win my first medal for the country," he said.
The 24-year-old Parul finished third in women's 5000m race, clocking a personal best of 15 minutes 36.03 seconds. She bettered her earlier personal best of 15:58.35 which she had clocked during the Federation Cup last month.
"I did not worry about the leaders stepping up the pace. I ran according to plan and how my body felt," Parul said.
The other Indian in the fray, Sanjivani Jadhav finished fourth with a time of 15:41.12 Bahrain took both the gold and silver through Mutile Winfred Yavi (15:28.87) and Bontu Rebitu (15:29.60).
The 28-year-old veteran Poovamma clocked 53.21 seconds in women's 400m race final to finish third behind Elina Mikhina (53.19) of Kazakhstan and pre-race favourite Salwa Naser (51.34) of Bahrain. Poovamma's compatriot Hima had failed to finish the women's 400m heats in the morning as she developed a lower back spasm halfway through her race.
The 19-year-old Indian slowed down near the 180m mark and then clutched her lower back as she felt pain due to spasms before lying down on the track as the other runners sped away.
Gavit Murali won India's final medal of the day with a bronze in men's 10000m race with a personal best time of 28 minutes 38.34 seconds. He finished behind two Bahrain runners, Dawit Fikadu (28:26.30) and Hassan Chani (28:31.30).
In men's 400m, Muhammed Anas and Arokia Rajiv qualified for the finals from their respective semifinals. Rajiv won his semifinal race with a time of 45.96 seconds while Anas clocked 46.10 to finish fifth in the other semifinal.
Saritaben Gayakwad (58.17s) and M Arpitha (58.20s) qualified for women's 400m hurdles finals from their respective heats while M P Jabir (50.17s) did the same in men's 400m hurdles.
National record holder Jinson Johnson and Mohammed Afsal also qualified for the 800m finals from their respective semi-finals. Earlier in the morning session, 23-year-old Dutee clocked 11.28 seconds to set a national record while winning her heat in the women's 100m race.
She has qualified for the semifinals. Dutee bettered her earlier national record of 11.29 seconds which she set last year in Guwahati. The Odisha runner, however, could not touch the 11.24-second qualification mark for the World Championships. In women's 800m, Gomathi Marimuthu clocked 2:04.96 to finish second in her heat and qualify for the finals. In men's triple jump, Chitravel finished ninth with a jump of 15.66m to qualify for the finals.