Asian Games 2023: Annu Rani, Parul Chaudhary win gold in track and field as India’s women athletes enjoy purple patch

The 3000m steeplechase is one of the hardest events in athletics. To win silver in that and then recover, in less than 24 hours, to go one better and win gold in a gruelling 5000m speak volumes about Parul Chaudhary’s fitness and determination as the Indian added a third gold to India’s athletics tally here on Monday.

She was soon joined by veteran Annu Rani, managing her season’s best throw of 62.92m to finish on top in the javelin throw as India continued to shine on the track-and-field. It was Annu’s first throw past 60m this year, the previous best being a 59.24m in May. In fact, this was her best performance since May last year!

That the two gold medallists of the day for India were both veteran women athletes also speaks volumes on the growing fitness levels of Indian athletes and India’s improving status – the country has won 22 medals in track-and-field so far and is currently second in the sport behind China in numbers.

Parul, a Ticket Examiner (TE) with Indian railways at the moment, spoke of how getting a job as DSP with UP Police was her main motivator.

“I knew I had the capacity to beat her. Yesterday I was too tired to even sleep after the silver but had decided to go for gold today. I wanted to win for India and the prospect of a good job was also there. I have been working on this since 2011 and everyone had a lot of expectations and I am happy to fulfill them,” an exhausted Parul admitted.

Running with the pack for a large part of the race, Parul broke away along with the Japanese duo of Ririka Hironaka and Yuma Yamamoto in the penultimate lap as the field opened up and the race accelerated.

Trailing fourth going into the last lap, Ririka and Parul overtook others to be placed one and two respectively at the 300m bend, only for the Indian to kick her way ahead to the finish line in the final 10m in 15:14.75.

Her coach Scott Simmons explained the strategy.

“The plan was to stay with the pack, regardless of the pace. We wanted her to push ahead if the pace was too slow but she didn’t have to, it was solidly set by the Japanese runner. It slowed in the middle and then it started to heat up again in the last 100m. We train specifically on finishing kicks and she did it today,” a proud Simmons said.

Annu, meanwhile, admitted she was under pressure to perform but was determined to go all out.

“I have not had great results this year and was quite depressed. I knew I could do it, it was not easy but I was determined to not go down without a fight and gave my everything on the field,” the 31-year old said.

Also finishing among the medals was Vithya Ramraj, recovering from a gruelling 4x400m mixed relay late Monday night to finish third in the 400m Hurdles in 55.68sec. It was a creditable performance from the youngster to finish behind former world champion Mujidat Oluwakemi Adekoya of Bahrain and Jiadie Mo of China, both going faster than the existing games record.


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