Asian Games: Neeraj, men's relay team clinch gold; Jena, Sable, Harmilan, women's quartet win silver

Neeraj Chopra
Neeraj Chopra in action in the final. Photo: PTI/Gurinder Osan

Star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra prevailed in an intense and stirring duel with compatriot Kishore Jena after brushing aside a technical glitch to defend his Asian Games gold, while the men's 4x400m relay won the title as India snared 12 medals on Wednesday to record its best-ever show at the continental showpiece.

The track and field athletes delivered seven medals on the day that took India's overall tally to 81 -- the best-ever show by the country at the Asian Games. India's previous best medal haul of 70 came in the last edition at Jakarta.

Kishore Kumar Jena
Kishore Kumar Jena competes in the final. Photo: PTI/Gurinder Osan

India are assured of more medals in several competitions and the country is expected to breach the 90-medal mark, if not touch the coveted 100.

Chopra was overwhelming favourite in his event but Jena threw up a huge surprise when he heaved his spear to 86.77m to overtake his decorated compatriot, who had managed 84.49m in his second attempt.

This was after a dramatic start when Chopra's first effort was not recorded due to a malfunction in electronic distance measurement.

The Indian camp was jumping with joy with the two Indians locked in a thrilling battle to out-do each other.

Chopra then responded to the challenge like a true champion and came up with his season-best effort of 88.88m in his fourth attempt to regain the lead. Jena too gave his all to further better his personal-best mark by covering the distance of 87.54m but it was good enough only to finish second behind Chopra.

The two Indians could not better their throws after that and settled for a 1-2.

"I felt very good with my opening throw but unfortunately they could not record that. I am pretty happy for Jena. It really became a tough duel which I enjoyed thoroughly. We are used to such high level competition.

"When he took lead it became very interesting. We have to keep telling ourselves that we can overcome the challenge and emerge as best," Chopra said after winning gold.

With his stunning effort Jena thus sealed his berth for the Paris Olympics. The qualification mark was 85.50. Chopra has already qualified for the 2024 Games with a throw of 88.77 at the World Championships in Budapest in August this year.

The Indian relay team celebrates with Neeraj Chopra and Kishore Kumar Jena. Photo: X@IndiaAllSports

Anas Muhammed Yahiya, Amoj Jacob, Muhammed Ajmal Variyathodi and Rajesh Ramesh also sealed the gold for India in the men's 4x400m relay with a timing of 3:01.58.

Keralites Anas, Amoj and Ajmal along with Tamil Nadu's Rajesh had set an Asian record in the recent World Championships.

Vithya Ramraj, Aishwarya Mishra, Prachi and Subha Venkatesan claimed a silver in women's 4x400m relay.

The India quartet came up with an effort of 3:27.85 to finish second, while Bahrain dished out a Games record effort of 3:27:65 to claim the top position, while Sri Lanka won the bronze with a timing of 3:30:88.

Harmilan Bains and Avinash Sable also won a silver medal each in women's 800m and men's 5000m respectively.

Avinash Sable
Avinash Sable reacts as he crosses the finishing line. Photo: PTI/Gurinder Osan

While Harmilan clocked an impressive timing of 2:03.75 to bag the silver, Sable produced an effort of 13:21.09.

Earlier during the day, Indian race walkers Manju Rani and Ram Baboo won the bronze medal in the inaugural 35km mixed team event.

In men's high jump, Anil Kushare produced a season best jump of 2.26m but it was not enough as he missed a medal, finishing at the fourth spot. He needed to clear the 2.29m mark to stay in the fight for a medal.

Jesse Sandesh produced a jump of 2.19m to finish ninth.

India's Sheena N V finishes sixth in the women's triple jump final with an effort of 13.34m.

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