Women's Relay Team Confident of Gold at Asiad

New Delhi, Oct 13 (IANS): Having played a stellar role in ensuring a gold medal finish for India in the women's 4x400 metres relay, Ashwini Chidananda Akkunji Tuesday exuded confidence of repeating the feat at next month's Asian Games at Guangzhou.

She said the performance of the Indian athletes in the 2010 Commonwealth Games was a befitting answer to those who thought the country did not have the ability to win medals - particularly gold - from such big events.

"Many people did not expect us to win medals here. But we always knew we had it in us to win the gold."

"India had won the silver at the last edition of the Games at Melbourne four years back. But few thought we can repeat it here," Ashwini said after having sprinted brilliantly to push the hosts from the third to the first spot running the third lap. Manjeet Kaur and Sini Jose had finished at least 10 metres behind the Nigerians the English contestants in the first two laps.

Ashwini said the Indian team's two stints of month-long training at Ukraine have done them a world of good.

"We don't see any strong contender for gold apart from us at the Asian Games. But we should not underestimate China who are hosting the event," she said.

Mandeep said months of hard work has paid off. "We worked on our performance day and night. We wanted to prove to the world that we can win medals in athletics," she said.

Thanking the crowd for its strong support, she said: "I have got goosebumps right now. I think we won because of the crowd support we had."

Manjeet was at a loss for words. "I cannot express my happiness in words. I am really happy that we have won 12 medals in athletics this time and with hard work we will get more in the future. The Games are in Delhi so we had to go for gold."

The women's 4x100 metres relay team rued having missed a silver to Ghana by a hundredth of a second with a 45.25 second finish.

"Had we sprinted a little harder in the end we would have got it. We were expecting a medal. We just missed in the last moment. Otherwise we would have won the silver," said team member Geetha Satti.

However, happy with the bronze, she said: "We did a lot of hard work and I think we are bearing its fruits now."

Her teamamte Srabani Nanda said they were now preparing for the Asian Games, but to ensure a medal there they needed to reach the goal of running below 45 seconds.

Kashinath Naik, who won the bronze in men's javelin, was all smiles, but said he had done better in training sessions.

"I am happy with the medal as this is the first Commonwealth medal in javelin for India. I am not happy about my performance, though. I was better during my training sessions."

Naik was simply in love with the crowd, that had cheered the Indians all through.

"It feels like it was some cricket match going on. I hope the audience will support us in the same manner every time."



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