Bhubaneswar, (PTI): Medal contender quartermilers Rajiv Arokia and Mohammed Anas eased into the semifinals while all the other Indians in their respective individual events also made it to the final rounds on the first morning of the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships here today.
Arokia qualified as the best finisher in the preliminary round after winning the second heat with a timing of 46.42secs while national record holder Anas was second in the first heat in 46.70 seconds at the Kalinga Stadium here. The third Indian in the fray, Amoj Jacob also qualified for the next round by winning the third heat with a time of 47.09secs.
22-year-old Anas is the Asian season leader with his own national record improving effort of 45.32secs during the Indian Grand Prix in New Delhi in May.
“I did not go full throttle, have to preserve myself for next rounds. I am happy with my timing, the conditions are a bit humid,” said Anas after his race.
The Kerala athlete has already qualified for the World Championships to be held in London in August.
In men’s 1500m, India’s Ajay Kumar Saroj topped the qualifying timings to storm into the final round, along with compatriot Siddhanta Adhikari. Saroj clocked 3:51.37 to win the second heat while Adhikari was second in the first heat with a time of 3:57.46.
In women’s 1500m race also, Monika Choudhary and P U Chitra qualified for the final round.
In men’s high jump, India’s B Chathan and Ajay Kumar made it to the final round after clearing identical heights of 2.10m.
The morning session show minor glitches on the scoreboard and finish line wirings, which, however, did not impact on the results. The Indian officials said that all these will be sorted out by the evening session.
“This is the first session of the championships, there can be minor glitches here and there. This session is more of a trial of all the equipments. Everything will be all-right by this evening,” an AFI official said.
In men’s decathlon that kick-started the proceedings today, Japan’s Kazuya Kawasaki took an early lead with the 100m sprint leg of the event. India’s Abhishek Shetty was playing catch-up in a strong field that includes Asian Championships silver medallist Guo Qi from China.
In the evening session on Day 1, national record holder discus thrower Vikas Gowda will hope to make it a hat-trick of Asian Championship titles after winning gold in Wuhan (2015) and Pune (2013).
The opening day will be spiced up with the heats of the men’s 100m, which will see Asian record holder and defending champion Femi Seun Ogunode of Qatar, with national champion and local boy Amiya Kumar Mallick hoping to put up a strong show.