JAKARTA, Aug 28: A jobless Manjit Singh came from nowhere to snatch the men�s 800m gold for the biggest medal of his life while the quartet of Muhammed Anas, MR Poovamma, Hima Das and Arokia Rajiv clinched a silver in 4x400m mixed relay race.
The 31-year-old Manjit, an unheralded runner from Haryana who doesn�t even have a national gold to his credit, chose the Asian Games to find the limelight.
In fact, he snatched it from the seasoned Jinson Johnson with a personal best of 1:46.15sec. Johnson finished second for a silver, a rare 1-2 for India at the Games.
�I saw videos of my races at national and international events and analysed the mistakes. I was motivated to improve myself.
�I never thought of bettering the national mark. I just wanted to give my best. I don�t have a job but my coach is from Army,� said the athlete, who lives in Jind, Haryana, and comes from a family of farmers.
India�s last gold in men�s 800m was won by Charles Borromeo in 1982 Asian Games.
It was India�s only second one-two finish in 800m at the Games since Ranjit Singh and Kulwant Singh achieved the feat at the inaugural edition held in New Delhi in 1951.
Coached by India Army�s Amreesh Kumar, Manjit bettered his personal best mark of 1:46.24s set in Guwahati this year at the Nationals to claim his maiden major international medal.
While others did not give him a chance, Manjit said he was determined to prove his worth.
It is not the first time that Manjit beat Johnson as he had defeated the Kerala athlete in Pune also in 2013.
Manjit said he trained in Ooty for the last one-and-a-half year apart from Bhutan for three months ahead of the Asian Games.
�I had prepared well. I had strategised to follow runners initially and then push towards last 100-150m. I did it and won gold for my country,� an elated Manjit said.
A lot of middle-eastern countries have imported physically strong African athletes to power their athletics squad but Manjit said he was confident to outshine them.
�Indian athletes are doing well. Tejinderpal Singh Toor and Neeraj Chopra had won gold and that also motivated me. Even those who won silver, they have won with national record,� he said.
�I have seen Neeraj growing up in the last 1-2 years. Such performances inspire you.�
Jonhson said Manjit was outstanding and deserved to win.
�He really ran well that�s why he finished first. He was outstanding,� the silver medallist said.
On the other hand the Indian quartet clocked 3:15.71 seconds to finish behind Bahrain. Bahrain ran away with the gold in 3:11.89.
Earlier, Dutee Chand set herself up on course for a second Asian Games medal after qualifying for the women�s 200m final but Hima suffered a heartbreak as she was disqualified for a false start here today.
Dutee, who won a silver in women�s 100m dash, stormed into the final by winning the semifinal in personal best time of 23:00 seconds, which was faster than her qualification round timing.
Dutee was in third position in the beginning but made up in the last 50m stretch to edge out Edidiong Odiong (23.01) and Lingwei Kong (23.32).
Hima, the silver medallist in the women�s 400m, lined up for the semifinal heat number two but had to make a premature exit due to a false start.
Dutee was faster than Hima in the qualifying, clocking 23.37, compared to 23.47 of the latter.
In the National Inter-State Championships in June, Hima had won the 200m gold in 23.10 ahead of Dutee, who had clocked 23.41. � PTI