Rohit Mahajan in Hangzhou
Tajinderpal Singh Toor, virtually a mountain of a man at 6’4” and a girth to match, had melted to a mush in the cool Sunday evening here — the shot-putter pressed the gold to his forehead, looked up, misty-eyed, as if seeing in the mind’s eye the trials of the last few years of his life.
Toor had won gold at the 2018 Asian Games, and lost his father to cancer soon after; he then broke his wrist, and could not train for months, and had a surgery in September 2021.
Here, on Sunday night, his dream of a second gold seemed to have melted; having started with a foul, he was in second place with one throw left. Then something completely unexpected happened — Toor heaved the shot to 20.36 metres, getting past Saudi Arabia’s Mohamed Daouda Tolo, who seemed to have locked gold with a throw of 20.18m.
Toor’s was India’s second gold on Sunday at the magnificent Olympic Park. Unlike Toor, Avinash Sable, the Commonwealth Games silver medallist, faced not a single anxious moment as he led from start to finish, easily smashing the Asian Games record, ending in 8 minutes, 19.50 seconds. He bettered the record of 8:22.79, set five years aago by Iran’s Hossein Keyhanij. Sable, 29, later said he’d decided to set the pace himself — he knew that he wouldn’t be pushed by anyone here. “I have always followed the pace set by others,” said the Army man. “Today I decided to set my own pace and not to bother about what others were doing.”
Toor later said he just wanted to be fully fit for the event. The 28-year-old Moga lad had suffered a groin injury in July, when he won gold at the Asian Championships in Bangkok — this injury put him out of the World Championships. “I was preparing to do my best in the World Championships, but this groin injury happened. I was disappointed, but you cannot do anything about injury,” he said. After Toor’s final attempt, which put him at No. 1, home favourite Liu Yang and Saudi Arabia’s Tolo did have a chance to edge him out — they flexed their muscles but the iron ball didn’t oblige, and Toor lifted his arms in celebration and ended the night with moist eyes as he savoured gold.
India’s two-gold haul in athletics had a silver lining — Harmilan Bains of Hoshiarpur finished second in the women’s 1,500m and Ajay Kumar Saroj in the men’s 1,500m; Murali Sreeshankar won the men’s long jump silver with 8.19m; finally, late in the night, after a spell of controversy, Jyothi Yarraji won silver in the women’s 100m hurdles, having earlier been disqualified along with China’s Wu Yanni. In the end, it seemed the Indian camp had fallen short of the national flags — Murali Sreeshankar, having celebrated his silver, had to hand over his Tricolour to Jyothi Yarraji, it was such night of rare athletics success for India.
Toor ‘puts’ up golden show
Shot-putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor pulls off a big final round throw to defend his title, hurling iron ball to 20.36m to nail the gold
Historic steeplechase gold
Avinash Sable wins the first-ever men’s gold in 3000m steeplechase
Shooting glory: Shooting trap team, comprising (L-R) Prithviraj Tondaiman (119), Zoravar Sandhu (120) and Kynan Chenai (122), win a gold medal with an Asian Games record of 361
Harmilan Bains wins silver in 1500m with a time of 4min 12.74 sec
Most Read In 24 Hours
Don't MissView All
Election Results 2023 LIVE updates: BJP set to form govt in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh; Congress wins Telangana
Congress is in power in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, BJP is r...
BJP leading in 163 of 230 seats, Congress in 64
Saffron party wins 30 seats, ahead in 84
Counting of votes in elections to 90-member Assembly began a...
Counting of votes in elections to 119-member Assembly starte...