BHUBANESWAR: They had all reasons to cheer. With 12 gold medals in kitty, the Indian athletes topped the medal tally bagging a total of 29 in the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships (AAC) which concluded here on Sunday. A jubilant Indian contingent was felicitated by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at a special function a day later.
“I am satisfied with my performance at the AAC 2017. My target was to reach 5800 points in women’s Heptathlon. I scored 5942,” gold medalist Swapna Burman, said in an exclusive interview to The New Indian Express on Monday.
Hailing from Jalpaiguri of West Bengal, Swapna marvelled in the high jump of Heptathlon with 86 points which was two points better than the individual high jump gold medalist’s score. There was tough competition from teammate Poornima and a Japanese athlete. My performance in . high jump with 86 points helped me gain a lead,” she said.
Thanking her coach Subash Sarkar, Swapna said she aims to perform her best at World Championships at London, scheduled in August. “I also need to secure my future and look forward to get a job soon,” said Swapna.Another Indian medalist who bagged a double-Gold in AAC 2017, G Lakshmanan had targeted to be among top three. He bagged gold medals in 5000 metres and 10,000 metres. “There was tough competition from Saudi Arabia and Qatar athletes during the event, but I picked up momentum in the last 300 metres,” Lakshmanan said. The star sprinter said, high altitude training in his hometown Ooty gave him an advantage.
Lakshmanan was all praise for his coaches S Loganathan and Surendra Singh.
Odia medalist Purnima Hembram, who bagged bronze in women’s Heptathlon, said her performance on the first day was good and had she maintained the momentum, a gold medal would not have been a distant dream. “In a seven-sport event there are ups and downs, but I will practise harder to rectify the errors in future events and deliver the best,” she said.
“My performance could have been better in long jump, javelin, short-put and 800 metres. In short-put my previous record was 11.93, whereas I scored 11.84 at the AAC. High jump and 100 metres hurdles helped me back into the event,” the athlete from Rairangpur in Mayurbhanj district said. She attributed her success to the practice at Patiala camp.
AFI president Adille Sumariwalla was all praise for the State Government for timely arrangements and a facelift of the Kalinga Stadium within three months. “The stadium has world class facilities. This kind of an Athletic Championships has not been conducted in Asia so far, and the systematic sequence of events we witnessed in Odisha will be hard to replicate,” he said.