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Koji Ito clocks Asian record of 10.00 secs in men's 100m

By K.P. Mohan

BANGKOK, Dec. 13

Koji Ito clocked an Asian record of 10.00 seconds for the men's 100 metres and his Japanese team-mate, Koji Murofushi upstaged the former World hammer champion, Andrey Abduvaliyev, as the Asian Games athletic championship started rolling in a festive atmosphere and cool weather conditions at the Tammasat University Complex main stadium here on Sunday.

The famous Bangkok weather, hot and sultry, having given way to rather pleasant days and slightly chilly nights, the athletes, especially the distance runners, have been spared a possible ordeal. But the weather was not the type that the sprinters love, though a stiff wind did contribute to some excellent timings in the sprint heats in either section.

Ito had a wind-speed of 1.9m per second, within legal limits, has he set the continental mark of 10.00s while winning his semifinals. In the morning he had a wind-aided 10.03 in the preliminary heats. The ratified Asian record of 10.08s stands in the name of Japanese Nobuharu Asahara. Ito equalled that in October at Kumamoto during the Japanese National. And now he has this time, which the track-side timer showed as 9.99s. Ito had just one look at the timer and another quick glance at the wind- gauge before jumping around.

Japan also had plenty of cause for cheer as Yoko Ota won the women's high jump gold on a count-back with Chinese Jin Ling after they tied at 1.88. Both went for 1.92m but failed and the count-back showed that Ota had cleared 1.88m on her second attempt while Jin Ling took one more. Miki Imai, the winner at Fukuoka, was fifth after a quadruple tie for the third place.

Few would have imagined that Andrey Abduvaliyev could be beaten at this level. The former Tajikistan native, now representing Uzbekistan, was expected to walk away with the hammer gold, though Murofushi was always considered a tough adversary.

At Fukuoka, cheered by his father, the legendary Shigenobu Murofushi, who won five Asian Games gold medals in hammer, from 1970 to 1986, Koji had finished only second best to Abduvaliyev,76.57 to 74.17.

Today, Koji Murofushi nailed 78.57m, a personal best, on his third throw while Abduvaliyev, who holds the top nine Asian marks this season, with a best of 80.70m at Turin, Italy, in June, settled for 77.14m on his third attempt. He looked harried in the final series and fouled all three. Not just that, someone else stood in for him during the medals ceremony. Murofushi's effort erased Chinese Bi Zhong's Games mark of 72.24m set at Hiroshima.

Well before the action had begun at the Tammasat University Stadium, the men walkers had taken off on their toe and heel routine at the nearby Ayuthya province in the 20km event. Chinese Yu Guohui claimed the gold in one hour 20 minutes and 25 seconds, with Kazakhstan's Valeriy Borrisenko claiming the silver and Chinese Li Zewen taking the bronze.

The battle-lines were drawn in the women's 100m title clash as Asian record holder Li Xuemei clocked a wind-aided 10.99 in the semifinals while Susanthika Jayasinghe timed 11.30 in another heat with the third heat being won by Chinese Li Yali in 11.45s.

Gulab's personal best

It was a day when India turned the tide to come out of the depths; it was also the day when Gulab Chand ran a personal best in the 10,000 metres. It was a great effort from the Varanasi man, no matter that his best was good enough only for the bronze.

In excellent weather conditions for the distance runners, the pace looked too hot for Gulab to handle after the half-way mark was passed in 14:41.35. In the end, Gulab had this to say after he held off the Asian champion, Korean Baek Seung-Do for the bronze: ``The pace was slow, I could have run a 29, but the spikes were hurting. I haven't got a pair which fits in perfectly.''

Hurting spikes or not, without him realising, Gulab had run a 29:10.53. Only Bahadur Prasad (28:55.02 at Hiroshima in 1994) has better timings in recent years, with the National record by Hari Chand, set in Montreal in 1976, standing at an imposing 28:48.72. Japanese Kenji Takao claimed the gold in an impressive 28:45.66, surviving a late challenge by Qatari Ahmed Ibrahim Warsama.

Gulab apart, another bronze came from woman discus thrower Neelam J. Singh, though at 55.09, she was well behind her National mark of 59.44m set at Calcutta last month, not to speak of her efforts of 56m plus throughout this season.

Elsewhere, the manner in which P.T. Usha came through to the final of the 400m, as one of the two best losers, did not inspire confidence. On the brighter side, K. C. Rosakutty made the grade by winning her 400m semifinal heat while Paramjeet Singh qualified for the men's 400m final as the third fastest, behind Sri Lankan Sugath Tillakeratne and Qatari Ibrahim Ismail. In the women's 100m, Rachita Mistry also qualified for the final coming in second behind Sri Lankan Susanthika Jayasinghe in her heat.

The spotlight was on the men's 10,000m in a thin card of five finals on this opening day. With Japanese Toshinari Takaoka having withdrawn, the field wore an open look, with Gulab looking good for a medal right at the start. However, Kenji Takao started inducting a few fast laps after the 5,000m and Gulab looked like losing touch with the leaders which he did with a little more than seven laps to go.

Yet, Gulab, the 1992 Asian junior champion and the bronze medallist at the Fukuoka Asian meet in July, never gave up. He hung onto Baek Seung-Do since he realised that the bronze alone was within reach, did not even notice Chinese Xia Fengyuan catching up with him and eventually produced his famous `kick' from about 130 metres out to make sure of the bronze. Baek, winner at Fukuoka, finished fourth.

Gulab is the first male athlete to win a medal for India in the Asian Games since Deena Ram won the steeplechase silver at Beijing in 1990. By winning a medal here to go with the two he had at Fukuoka, the 25-year-old, with the nickname of `bijli' (lightning) has lived up to the promise he showed back in 1992 when he won the Asian junior title in the 5000m in New Delhi.

Kenji Takao maintained the standards set by the Japanese in distance events, though at several stages he looked to be tiring beyond recovery. But he hung on, only Ahmed Ibrahim keeping in touch and finally making a gallant attempt to beat him on the home straight.

Neelam J. Singh's bronze in discus came on expected lines. Any talk of Neelam winning the gold, just because of her phenomenal improvement during this season, when she raised her National mark first to 57.94m, then 59.18 and 59.44, was bound to crash against the Chinese.

China did not enter its Asian champion at Fukuoka, Yu Xin, and instead had its World junior champion, Liu Fengying and Luan Zhili. Neelam struggled to get her act right, the pressure after Luan Zhili opened with a 61.40m effort, weighing her down. She had a series of 53.96, 53.79, foul, 55.09, foul and foul. India's second entry, Swaranjeet Kaur, ended up fourth with a best of 51.46m, her last throw.

Usha was pushed to the fourth place in her heat in the 400m, with a time of 54.63m, by Sri Lankan Damayanthi Darsha (52.48s), Kazak Sevtalana Bodritskaya (54.13s) and Chinese Zhang Hengyuan (54.37s). Running in lane No 1, she had some problem is juding herself and her heat timing has given her lane 8 for the final. Having missed a lot of training period because of injuries after the Fukuoka meet, Usha is far from her self.

Rachita Mistry clocked 11.46 secs, three-hundredth of a second outside her best, clocked four years ago while qualifying for the women's 100m final.

Bahadur Prasad looked in no trouble as he also made the final, in the 1500m, timing 3:51.00, coming third in the heat won by the defending champion, Mohamed Suleiman of Qatar at 3:50.43.

Paramjeet clocked 46.68s in the morning heats and followed it up with 46.37 in the semifinals.

Two Indians still in Delhi

Two of the Indian athletics squad, javelin throwers Satvir Singh and Jagdish Bishnoi are still in Delhi. Two others, shot putter Shakti Singh and discus thrower Ajit Bhaduria reached here last night, according to team officials, after having been held up for yet-to-be-explained reasons.

In the case of Satvir and Bishnoi, team officials explained that they were delayed because of the lack of Government clearance. In the trials held in Delhi both had failed to reach the norm prescribed though the Amateur Athletic Federation of India (AAFI) had argued that Satvir's 79.68m at the Police meet in Calcutta was good enough to meet the standard.

The results:

Men: 10,000m: 1. Kenji Takao (Jpn) 28: 45.66, 2. Ahmed Ibrahim Warsama (Qat) 28:46.55, 3. Gulab Chand (Ind) 29:10.53; Hammer: 1. Koji Murofushi (Jpn) 78.57m (Games record, old 72.24, Bi Zhong CHN, Hiroshima, 1994), 2. Andrey Abduvaliyev (Uzb) 77.14, 3. Nikolay Davidov (Kgz) 68.10; 20km walk: 1. Yu Guohui (Chn) 1:20:25, 2. Valeriy Borissov (Kzk) 1:23.52, 3. Li Zewen (Chn) 1:24.41.

Women: High jump: 1. Yoko Ota (Jp) 1.88m, 2. Jin Ling (Chn) 1.88, 3. Anna Chertrova (Kgz) 1.84; discus: 1.Luan Zhili (Chn) 63.43m, 2. Liu Fengying (Chn) 59.34, 3. Neelam J. Singh (Ind) 55.09.
This story and results are reproduced by kind permission of :