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Asian Games: Yogeshwar provides golden touch, India in top-10

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Incheon: Star wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt notched up India’s fourth gold medal, while Khushbir Kaur became the first woman from the country to win a medal in 20km Race Walking by clinching a silver as India shot up to ninth in overall standings on the ninth day of competitions in the 17th Asian Games here today.
Besides, tennis players accounted for three bronze medals through Yuki Bhambri (men’s singles and men’s doubles with Divij Sharan) and Sania Mirza and Prarthana Thombare (women’s doubles). M R Poovamma and Rajiv Arokia won a bronze each in men’s and women’s 400m race respectively while Manju Bala added another medal of same hue in women’s hammer throw.
It was yet another joyful day for the Indian contingent after yesterday’s rich haul of 10 medals and have now broken into the top 10 for the first time since the multi-discipline extravaganza began on September 19.
With the addition of eight more medals today, India are placed ninth in the table with a collection of four gold, five silver and 26 bronze. China continued to maintain their supremacy with a tally of 216 (105-63-48), followed by South Korea (42-48-47) and Japan (34-46-46).
Medals won today aside, India can look forward to rich haul in the coming days as well with the women boxers assured of medals in all three weight categories. The men’s doubles tennis pair of Sanam Singh and Saketh Myneni as well as mixed doubles team of Myneni and Sania also assured themselves of at least a silver by advancing to the final.
Yogeshwar was star performer of the day as he better his 2006 edition bronze in style with a couple of splendid bouts. The Olympic bronze-medallist was trailing all through in his semifinal bout before coming good in the last few seconds to enter the final.
In the summit clash, Yogeshwar defeated Zalimkhan Yusupov of Tajikistan to expectedly pick the gold.
Earlier, Khushbir Kaur provided the early spark by becoming the first Indian woman to win a medal in race walking in the Asian Games as she clinched a silver in 20km event.
The 21-year-old from Amritsar clocked 1:33:07 to finish behind Lu Xiuzhi of China, who won the gold in 1:31:06, at the Marathon Course here.
The Indian, who holds the national record of 1:31:40, was consistently third till the 18km mark before going up a position in the final two kilometres, thanks largely to the slowing down of second-placed Chinese Nie Jingjing, who eventually finished fourth.
This is the biggest triumph of Khushbir’s nascent career after the bronze medal she won at this year’s Asian Walking Championships bronze in Japan. She was the first Indian woman to achieve such a feat.
In tennis, Yuki clinched India’s lone singles’ medal settling for a bronze in the men’s event after unforced errors cost him the semifinal against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka. A profligate Yuki lost 6-3 2-6 1-6 in one hour and 46 minutes.
The pair of Sania and Thombare also settled for a bronze after losing their women’s doubles semifinal to Chinese Taipei’s Chin Wei Chan and Su Wei Hsiehin. The fifth seeded Indian combo put up a brave fight before going down 6-7 (1-7) 6-2 10-4 to the Chinese Taipei duo, seeded second.
Divij Sharan and Yuki Bhambri also bagged bronze after losing the men’s doubles semifinals to Yongkyu Lim and Hyeon Chung 6-7 (8) 7-6 (6) 9-11.
Indian track and field athletes added three more bronze later in the day after Khushbir’s silver in the morning as they put behind the disappointment of denying an additional medal in women’s 3000m steeplechase event.
Poovamma made up for a slow start and get into medal contention on the back straight as she won a bronze in 52.36, well below her personal best of 51.73 done in Lucknow during the National Inter-State Meet in June.
Poovamma’s medal was expected, but not that won by Arokia Rajiv, the army runner belonging to Madras Regiment and based in Wellington, Ooty.
The Tamil Nadu runner, who had won his semifinal heat yesterday, clocked a personal best time of 45.92 (his previous best being 46.13). Manju Bala then finished third in the women’s hammer throw with a best heave of 60.47m which she did in her opening attempt.
In boxing, it was an all-win outing for the country’s women pugilists. Olympic bronze-medallist M C Mary Kom led the charge as Indian women assured themselves of medals in each of the three weight categories.
Mary Kom (51kg), L Sarita Devi (60kg) and Pooja Rani (75kg) entered the semifinals of their respective weight categories with commanding victories.
Mary Kom gave a perfect start against Si Haijuan of China. Sarita, on the other hand, endured an energy-sapping slug fest against Mongolia’s Suvd Erdene Oyungerel but was a clear winner.
Pooja then rounded off an all-win day for the women by out-punching Shen Dara Flora of Chinese Taipei in her quarterfinal bout.

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