Chitra defends 1,500M gold; India finish fourth

Sajith B Warrier

Doha/Bengaluru: With three gold, seven silver and as many bronze medals, India finished fourth at the 23rd Asian Athletics Championships, which concluded in Doha.

Bahrain topped the gold medals tally, followed by China and Japan.

India were on top spot in the previous edition held at home two years ago, with 12 gold, five silver and 12 bronze medals.

On the concluding day of the Championships at Khalifa International Stadium, the venue for this year's International Association of Athletics Associations (IAAF) World Championships, PU Chitra defended her 1,500M gold in 4:14.56sec with a splendid surge in the final straight.

Bahrain's Gashaw Tigest (4:14.81) clinched silver and her compatriot Winfred Mutile Yavi (4:16.18) settled for the bronze medal.

"Got a little nervous towards the end being next to Bahraini runner (Gashaw Tigest). She beat me to third place in Asian Games. I had to really push hard in the end," said an elated Chitra after defending her crown.

Unheralded half miler Gomathi Marimuthu and shot putter Tejinderpal Singh were the other two gold medallists for India in the four-day event, which was being run as a test event for the IAAF World Championships to be held at the same venue from September 28 to October 6.

Chitra's gold-medal winning effort has earned her a ticket to the IAAF World Championships, which is being held in the Middle East for the first time ever.

But the star of the show for India was Gomathi, who ran against some of the best in the business, including China's Asian Games champion Wang Chunyu and Kazakhstan's former two-time Asiad winner Margarita Mukasheva, to clinch the 800M gold.

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