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Lalita Babar bagged a gold in 3000m steeplechase with a national record shattering effort, while ace discus thrower Vikas Dowda won another yellow metal as Indians produced an impressive show to grab three medals on the third and penultimate day of the 21st Asian Athletics championships at Wuhan on Saturday.
Lalita improved her own 3000m steeplechase national record to win the gold in 9:34.13. The Maharashtra athlete had become the favourite to win the gold after the leading Asian in this event, Ruth Chebet of Bahrain withdrew from the race at Wuhan Sports Centre.
China’s Li Zhenzhu, silver medallist in the Incheon Asian Games last year ahead of Lalita’s bronze, could manage only a second place with a timing of 9:41.43. Home country’s Zhang Xiyan won the bronze in 9:46.82.
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26-year-old Lalita also qualified for 2016 Rio Olympics as her effort today went past the qualifying standard of 9:45.00. Her earlier national record stood at 9:35.37, which she came up while winning a bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. 31-year-old Gowda successfully defended his title he won in 2013 in Pune, though he came up with a below-par effort.
Gowda, who had come up with two 65m-plus throws this year, but yet to qualify for Rio Olympics, hurled the disc to 62.03m to win the gold. Kuwaiti Eisa Zankawi (61.57m) and Iranian Mahmoud Samimi (59.78m) were the other medallists. Asian record-holder Ehsan Hadadi of Iran ended up with ‘no mark’. The triumph was one of the few instances when Gowda ended ahead of Hadadi, who had won the gold in the Incheon Asian Games.
G Lakshmanan fetched a silver for India as he won his second medal of the championships with a brilliant 10000m race, clocking 29:42.81
With three medals, India’s tally swelled to three gold, three silver and two bronze. Inderjeet Singh had won the first gold for India in men’s shot put event on the opening day on June 3.