Guangzhou, Nov 21 : India's long-distance runners dominated the track on the opening day of athletics at the Asian Games, capturing two gold medals Sunday while China's women shot putters easily beat their competition.
India went one-two in an exciting, come-from-behind finish in the women's 10,000 meters. Sudha Singh added a second gold for India in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase, digging deep in the last meters to hold off a late burst from a Chinese rival.
Elsewhere on the first day of athletics competition, golds went to China in the 20-kilometer walk and to Tajikistan's Dilshod Nazrov, who won the hammer throw gold with a toss of 74.44 meters. Ali Hasan Mahboob of Bahrain won the 5,000-meters in men's.
In the 10,000 meters, world No. 10 Kayoko Fukushi led the pack until the 3,000-meter mark, when Shitaya Eshete Habtegebrel of Bahrain made a brief break for the front. Japan's Hikari Yoshimoto then became the pacesetter, until Fukushi took over at the halfway mark. Japan's runners sagged after that, but sped to the front again 26 minutes into the race.
Going into the bell lap, Habtegebrel, a former Ethiopian athlete, made a dash for the front along with India's Preeja Sreedharan and Kavita Raut that left the Japanese behind. Sreedharan, who was fifth in the 2006 Asian Games, sprinted on to take the win about 10 meters ahead of Raut at 31 minutes, 50.47 seconds, her personal best.
Raut, the bronze medalist last month at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, finished at 31:51.44 and Habtegebrel was 31:53.27.
"I knew that in the last two kilometers I had to push myself," Sreedharan said. "I didn't get a medal in the Commonwealth Games, so I'm very happy. I thought I would be second, but I won."
China's Li Ling put in a personal best 19.94 meters on her fifth attempt to win the women's shot put, edging out compatriot Gong Lijiao, who scratched in four of her six tries, and had to settle with 19.67. The bronze medal throw was two meters shorter, at 17.51 by South Korea's Lee Mi-young.
"I'm still young, so I will have many more chances," said Gong, who was world champion last year and is now ranked third in the world. "I had a cold, but that's no excuse."
The hammer throw by Nazarov was good for gold in the second field event, but far short of Japanese athlete Koji Murofushi's Asian best of 84.86.
Mahboob ran a season's best in the 5,000, but was again well off the Asian record of 12:51.98 set in 2006. Finishing second and third were the Qatar pair James Kwalia C. Kurui, at 13:48.55, and Felix Kikwal Kibore, with 13:49.51.
Seeking to become Asia's fastest woman, Chisato Fukushima of Japan ran the day's best heat in the 100 meters, at 11.41 seconds. Oman's Barakat al Harthi put in a personal best 10.26 to lead the men's heats.
Earlier in the day, Wang Hao and Chu Yafei led China to a gold-silver finish in the 20-kilometer walk, the first athletics event of the games.
The 21-year-old World Cup champion finished in 1 hour, 20 minutes, 50 seconds, with Chu slightly more than a minute behind in 1:21.57. Kim Hyun-sub of South Korea took the bronze in 1:22.47. Nine walkers started the race, but only eight finished after Park Chil-sung of South Korea was disqualified at the 16-kilometer mark for lifting.
"I felt the passion of the spectators," Wang said. "It's a honor to win in China. I hope I can keep this up until the London Games, but the competition is going to be intense."
With the first distance finals out of the way, all eyes were turning to China's star hurdler Liu Xiang, though there was none of the fanfare or frenzy which preceded Liu's buildup to the Beijing Olympics, where an Achilles injury forced the then world and Olympic champion to limp off the track after failing to start his first heat.
He moved into the athletes village overnight and used his microblog Sunday to post updates on how he's settling in.
"It is really boring in the athletes' village. (The main thing is I'm afraid of going to crowded places)," Liu posted, referring to his concerns about being recognized and mobbed by fans. He later went out for a practice session.
"I just got back from a sweaty run at the training grounds in the athletes' village. It feels good!"
Liu races on Monday and his coach has said he is in good shape for the event. AP