Hangzhou, September 29
Kiran Baliyan became the first Indian woman to win an Asian Games medal in shot put event in 72 years as she picked up a bronze on the opening day of competitions here on Friday.
The 24-year-old Baliyan hurled the iron ball to a distance of 17.36m in her third attempt for her best effort of the day to open India's medal account.
Baliyan thus became only the second Indian to win a medal in women's shot put in Asian Games after Barbara Webster, an Anglo-Indian from then Bombay, won a bronze in the inaugural edition in New Delhi in 1951.
Baliyan has a season's as well as personal best of 17.92m which she had produced while finishing second in the Indian Grand Prix 5 in Chandigarh on September 10.
"I did not know the history (first Indian woman shot putter to win an Asian Games medal after 1951). My focus was to produce my best performance. I could not do that and I am not happy with my performance. But I won a medal, so I am very happy," she said later.
The other Indian in the fray, Manpreet Kaur finished fifth with a best throw of 16.25m.
In women's 400m race, Himanshi Malik ran an excruciatingly slow race for the second time in less than three weeks as she finished fifth in her heat and failed to qualify for the finals.
The 21-year-old Malik clocked 57.82 seconds in heat number three, even worse than the 57.59 second effort at the Indian Grand Prix 5 in Chandigarh on September 10.
She ran the race at the 'Big Lotus' stadium here with a knee brace, giving credence to the murmur that she was injured and could be left out of the Asian Games team.
Her timing on the opening day of athletics competition was more than six seconds outside her season's as well as personal best of 51.76 seconds which she had clocked while finishing second in the National Inter-State Championships in June.
Interestingly, in a video uploaded by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) earlier in the day, Malik said she was ready for the race.
"I am running my 400m race in the Asian Games today and hopefully I will do well," she said in the video.
The other Indian in the fray, Aishwraya Mishra qualified for the final round after finishing second in heat number one with a season's best time of 52.73 seconds.
In the men's 400m race, Muhammed Ajmal qualified for the finals after finishing second in his heat with a time of 45.76 seconds while Muhammed Anas Yahiya failed to make the grade after clocking 46.29 for a third-place finish in his heat.
The first two in each heat and the next two fastest across the three heats advance to the final.
In the women's hammer throw final, Tanya Chaudhary and Rachna Kumari finished seventh and ninth with performances of 60.50m and 58.13m respectively.
In the morning, national record holder Priyanka Goswami finished fifth in women's 20km race walk event with a time of 1 hour 43 minute 7 seconds, well outside her season's best of 1:28:50 and personal best of 1:28:45.
In the men's 20km event, Vikash Singh, who was drafted in the team due to injury to national record holder Akshdeep Singh, also finished fifth, clocking 1:27:33. He has a season's as well as personal best of 1:20:05.
The other Indian in the fray, Sandeep Singh was disqualified during the race.
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