Pakistan’s Shabbir claims first gold in South Asian athletics

March 7th, 2008 - 10:50 pm ICT by admin  

Kochi, March 7 (IANS) Pakistan’s Ghulam Shabir Hussain clinched the first gold medal of the South Asian Athletic Championships at the Maharaja College Ground Friday. Hussain’s effort of 59.16m pushed India’s Madhu Kumar to the second place. Despite winning the gold, Hussain was unable to match his personal best 62.10m achieved eight years ago.

India’s Madhu hurled the chained ball to 56.26m for the silver, while his teammate Jitender Singh got the bronze in 55.61m. Madhu started the event favourite with a personal best of 64.66m.

The Pakistan contingent reached Kochi late last night and the athletes did not get much rest, making Shabbir’s effort all the more creditable. His best came in his first last attempt, even though the day’s top four throws came from him.

India’s V B Bineesh, Virender Kumar Pankaj and P Shankar qualified for the 400m finals, while in the women’s section, Mandeep Kaur, Chitra K Soman and S Geetha booked their berths in the finals.

In the women’s 400m heats, Asian champion Chitra K Soman expectedly finished on top among five contestants, timing 54.85 seconds.

In the morning, a colorful march past by athletes was followed by releasing of balloons and bursting of crackers to mark the opening of the first South Asian Athletics Championship.

The march past was led by Bangladesh, followed by Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and finally the hosts India. Afghanistan, who were scheduled to take part did not arrive.

Middle Distance Runner Mandeep Kaur led the Indian contingent.

The lamp for the Championship was lit by former Asian Games gold medallist Shiny Wilson. The torch was carried by some of Kerala’s famnous athletes like Padmini Thomas, Mercy Kuttan and K M Beenamol.

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