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Whirlwind from Jind 

Jakarta, August 28

Manjit Singh, 28, has no qualms in saying that he’s inspired by the young trailblazing javelin star Neeraj Chopra. This was minutes after he had stunned compatriot Jinson Johnson to win the 800 metres final to win gold. Manjit was fourth going into the last 100 metres but then sped past Johnson and Qatar’s Abubaker Abdallah, who was leading for most part of the race. Moments later, he talked of his chats with Chopra, which had kept him on course to proving himself. Manjit and Chopra were acquaintances who have come closer after spending time together during national camps in Patiala, and here as well. Despite being younger, 20-year-old Chopra has struck a chord with Manjit, who has had a difficult time in the sport in the last two years. 

He’s been hit by injuries and Johnson, who broke the 42-year-old record made by Sriram Singh by clocking 1:45:65 before the Games, has taken over the mantle. But encouraging words from Chopra kept Manjit going.

“Neeraj is from Haryana just like me and we have been talking almost every day here in Jakarta before his event. He is a world beater and he would always inspire me to do well, by saying things like ‘go for it’, ‘don’t let anything else distract you’, ‘do it for your country’,” Manjit said. “I have always been in awe of him, seeing what he has achieved at such a young age. He is an inspiration to me just like he is to every aspiring Indian athlete. He has done India proud all over the world, and that is my aim too.”

Manjit said he almost always accelerates in the last 100 metres, which he did today. Johnson conceded Manjit was simply too good for the field today. “I am happy with my performance but Manjit was better than me today and we are happy for the 1-2 for the country,” Johnson said.

India won the men’s 800m gold at the Asian Games after 36 years — Charles Borromeo won gold the last time, in 1982 in New Delhi.

Silver in mixed relay

However, things did not go as per the plans in the 4×400 mixed relay as the Indian team finished second behind Bahrain to settle for a silver medal. The Indians were the hot favourites to win gold at the event, being held at the Asian Games for the first time. 

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