Lakshmanan, Suriya, Hima, Sheena lead Indian gold medal run at Asian Games test event

Jakarta, Feb13: Lakshmanan Govindan and Loganathan Suriya made it two in two for India in the 5000m at the athletics event of the Asian Games invitational tournament in Jakarta on Tuesday. Govindan, who hails from Pudukottai in Tamil Nadu had been adopted by Suriya’s father – the athletics coach S Loganathan. He has long carved a niche for himself as India’s premier long distance runner and is the current Asian champion in the 5000 and 10000m. The 28-year-old added to his already impressive body of work at the Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium. Competing in his first tournament of the season Lakshmanan clocked 13.56.30 seconds to finish ahead of Takanori Ichikawa of Japan who was nearly a half minute behind with a time of 14:19:10 seconds.

Suriya on the other hand was the only runner in the field. Without anyone to push or pace her, the 28-year-old might hardly have expected to challenge herself. However, Suriya recorded a career best time of 15:39:18secands, shaving nearly seven seconds of her previous best of 15:46:92 seconds recorded in Guntur last year. The mark was good enough to allow her to meet the Asian Games qualification standard of 15 minutes 45 seconds. However Suriya’s target for now would be next month’s Federation Cup which will serve as a qualification tournament for the Commonwealth Games. With the cream of Indian athletes taking part, Suriya would be able to push herself even further.

Lakshmanan and Suriya’s gold medals were just two of the four gold medals India won on the third day of athletics events in Jakarta. NV Sheena claimed a gold medal in the women’s triple jump while Hima Das finished ahead of the field in the women’s 200m race. Das, is one of the brightest talents in the women’s sprints events having finished fifth in the women’s 200m at Youth World championships in Nairobi last year. She is also won the National Open Championships. In Jakarta, the 18-year-old Das would clock 23.59 seconds to finish ahead of Ulfa Silpiana of Indonesia who was nearly a second behind with 24.86. Das, competing in her first tournament of the year recorded a new career best, beating her previous fastest mark of 24. 26 recorded at the National Open Athletics Championships in Chennai last year.

NV Sheena was always ahead of the field in the women’s triple jump and was well clear of the pack with her second jump of 13.33m. Sri Lanka’s Vidusha Heenatimullage came close with her final attempt of 13.28m but no other jumper crossed the 13m mark. It was the second medal for the 26-year-old Sheena who has had a prolific year having won the silver medal, also in the triple jump at the Asian Indoor Championships in Tehran in February.