With three gold medals – and two of those won with Games records – Kazakhstan got off to a flying start on the first day of athletics at the Ashgabat 2017 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat on Monday (18).
World triple jump bronze medallist Olga Rypakova began her quest for double gold by winning the long jump. She opened her series with 6.34m, a mark which Vietnam’s Thi Thu Thao Bui came within three centimetres of in the following round. Rypakova then improved to 6.41m in round three and 6.43m in round four. Bui improved to 6.36m with her final leap, but it wasn’t enough to catch Rypakova.
“I did not perform at my best as I have the triple jump on Tuesday so I tried to save a bit of energy for that,” said the 2012 Olympic triple jump champion. “But it is good to have won a fourth gold at these Games.”
Two of Rypakova’s male compatriots set Games records when winning their respective events.
Sergey Grigoryev needed two attempts at his opening height of 5.00m in the pole vault, but took the lead with a first-time clearance at 5.10m. He similarly needed just one attempt to clear 5.20m, 5.30m and 5.40m, adding 10 centimetres to the Games record. He was forced to retire from the competition after suffering a fall on his second attempt at 5.50m.
Fellow Kazakh Ivan Ivanov got off to a perfect start in the shot put final, sending his implement out to 19.60m to add 61 centimetres to the 10-year-old Games record. Although he didn’t improve on that mark, he managed four other throws beyond 19 metres. In second, India’s Tajinderpal Singh Toor also bettered the old Games record with 19.26m.
The Games record also fell in the men’s 60m hurdles. Saudi Arabia’s Ahmed Khader Almuwallad took the title in 7.66 – breaking the national record in the process – to beat Korea’s Lee Jungjoon (7.77).
The first athletics gold medal of the Games to be decided was in the women’s pentathlon. Competing in the first indoor competition of her career, Purnima Hembram broke the Indian record to take gold with 4062, winning by more than 100 points.
“This is the first indoor competition of my life and my first pentathlon,” said Hembram. “I came to know I was a member of the team to Ashgabat 2017 only 15 days before travelling, so I prepared for the competition as best as I could. I am so happy I won the gold medal. It was very unexpected, but that also makes it a lot more sweeter.”
Eight years after winning her first title at these Games, Nadiya Dusanova won the women’s high jump with 1.86m, leading an Uzbek 1-2 from Safina Sadullaeva.
Organisers and Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF