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Gowda, Arpinder to lead India’s gold medal quest in athletics

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Incheon, Sep 26 (PTI) India’s subdued campaign at the 17th Asian Games is expected to get a boost tomorrow with the commencement of the track and field events at the 61,000-capacity Incheon Asiad Main Stadium.

With just one gold medal coming so far, India are outside the top ten on the medals table, the Indian camp is hoping for a sizeable haul from the athletics track and field events.

However, they are aware that competition has got stiffer due to the induction of some former Soviet bloc countries and the grabbing of African-origin runners by some petro-dollar-rich West Asian nations.

The best bets from India to snatch gold medal appear to be in men’s field events, specifically in discus throw and triple jumps in which Vikas Gowda and Arpinder Singh are the leading lights of Asia this year going into the competitions.

Glasgow CWG gold medallist Gowda, who is set to reach here on Sunday, will have to contend with Iranian strongmen Mohammed Samimi and Ehsan Hadadi who have thrown 65-plus in their careers and are no. 2 and 3 performance-wise.

Arpinder, who is the leading triple jumper in the latest Asian top ten list with a clearance of 17.17m at Lucknow, also has his task cut out as he will fight it out with Cao Shao and Dong Bin of China who have cleared 17.30m in their careers.

In men?s shot put, India?s Inderjit Singh and Om Prakash have not managed to reach the 20m mark but are contenders for a podium finish. Chinese Taipei?s Chang Ming Huang, whose season?s best is 20.13m, would start as favourite.

Joseph Abraham who won the 400m hurdles gold four years ago in Guangzhou, the first track medal among men for India the Asiad since 1982 at New Delhi, is not in peak form but is in the fray. His best has been a modest 50.75secs.

There is also triple jumper Ranjit Maheshwary, termed ?freak jumper? by Athletics Federation of India President Adille Sumariwalla, who qualified pretty late ? just before the Games kicked off.

Among women, medal hopes lie on Tintu Luka, season?s Asian leader in 800m with a time of 2:00.56 clocked in the Doha Diamond League event in May as she will try to improve on her bronze medal finish in Guangzhou.

Among others in the fray are Guangzhou gold medalists Ashwini Akkunji (400m hurdles), Preeja Sreedharan (5000M, 10,000m) and Sudha Singh (3000m triple chase), but none of them are currently in peak form.

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