Rising track and field star Inderjeet Singh bagged a gold medal in men's shotput event as India opened the medal account on the first day of the 21st Asian Athletics Championships here on Wednesday.
Inderjeet, a silver medallist in 2013 World University Games and a bronze medal winner in last year's Asian Games in Incheon, clinched the gold by heaving the iron ball to a new championship record of 20.41m, which he achieved in his fourth attempt.
Chang Ming-Huang of Chinese Taipei won the silver with a throw of 19.56m, while Tian Zizhong of the home country bagged the bronze with an effort of 19.25m.
Inderjeet went into the championships as Asian leader in the season so far with his 20.65m effort and after winning gold in the Federation Cup Senior Nationals in Mangaluru last month. He lived up to the expectations by bagging the yellow metal in the showpiece event.
The 27-year-old left-handed Haryana sportsperson, who has already qualified for next year's Rio Olympic Games, thus became only the eighth Indian in the event to win a gold medal in the history of Asian championships, joining Jagraj Singh (1973), Bahadur Singh (1975), Balwinder Singh (1985 and 1989), Shakti Singh (2000), Navpreet Singh (2007) and Om Prakash Singh Karhana (2009).
"I could have come up with a 21-plus throw had the temperature been ideal. In Incheon Asian Games also my throw was less than what I could have done. My throw was less here also. But I have won gold for the country and I am proud of it," Inderjeet, who had finished fourth in the last edition in Pune in 2013, said after winning the gold.
In the other finals of the day, woman long jumper Mayookha Johny finished sixth with a 6.24m effort, while Gayathry Govindharajan ended at seventh position in women's 100m hurdles with a timing of 13.69 secs.
In men's 110m hurdles, national record-holder Siddhanth Thingalaya crashed out in the heats with a disappointing timing of 14.10secs.
Earlier, in the morning session, M R Poovamma qualified for the finals of women's 400m as a fastest runner (52.94 secs) in the heats, whereas Incheon Asiad bronze medallist Arokya Rajeev made it as fastest loser (46.55s) in the heats in men's 400m race.
Long jumpers Ankit Sharma (7.56m) and Kumaravel Prem Kumar (7.51m), as well as sprinter Srabani Nanda (11.61 secs in women's 100m) also qualified for the finals.