JAKARTA: India's Neeraj Chopra smashed the field to claim the men's javelin gold at the Asian Games on Monday by posting his personal best which was nearly six metres clear of his closest competitor.
The long-haired 20-year-old entered the competition in Jakarta having posted the season's best throw by an Asian when he hurled 87.43 metres at the Diamond League leg in Doha in May.
The Commonwealth Games champion threw even further at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, clearing a distance of 88.06 metres. China's Liu Qizhen posted a personal best of 82.22m for the silver. Pakistan's Arshad Nadeem took bronze.
Chopra began with a modest 83.46 and after fouling his second attempt, registered his best effort of the night on his third.
"It was not easy, the competition was quite tough. The throwers were quite good but they just couldn't perform tonight," Chopra told reporters, saying it was the best achievement of his career so far.
"My performance was fine, so I'm very happy. My preparation was quite good, so I expected a new Asian Games record but couldn't cover the distance."
In men's high jump, China's Wang Yu leapt 2.30 metres to claim the gold ahead of South Korea's Woo Sang-hyeok whose season's best of 2.28 fetched him the silver. Syrian Majd Eddin Ghzal and Japan's Naoto Tobe both cleared 2.24 to claim a bronze apiece.
It was Syria's first medal at the ongoing Games.
Vietnam's Bui Thi Thu Thao won the women's long jump with her season's best leap of 6.55m to gift her country their first athletics gold at the 18th Games. India's Neena Varakil won silver and the bronze went to China's Xu Xiaoling.
"The race was not very good as I hoped to better my personal best but this gold medal is very important because this is the first one in athletics for Vietnam," Bui Thi said. "I will try to go to the Olympics."
On a productive third day in athletics for Bahrain, Nigerian-born Oluwakemi Adekoya won the women's 400m hurdles in a Games record time of 54.48 seconds. Quach Thi Lan of Vietnam took the silver while Aminat Jamal gave Bahrain another place on the podium with a bronze.
Qatari Abderrahman Samba, 22, also broke the Games record in the men's 400m hurdles when the Mauritanian-born finished his run in 47.66 seconds. Dharun Ayyasamy of India was a distant second with a time of 48.96 while Japanese athlete Takatoshi Abe finished third.
"It's a good feeling you know. Actually these are big competitions, the Asian Games, the Asian championship. I think I worked hard this season to be in this place and I won gold medal," Samba told Reuters.
"Also this competition makes me prepare for next year in the world champion and 2020 Tokyo Olympics."
Kenyan-born Winfred Yavi also struck gold for Bahrain in the women's 3000m steeplechase, ahead of India's Sudha Singh and Vietnam's Nguyen Thi Oanh.
The men's 3000m steeplechase gold went to Iranian Hossein Keyhani, who broke the Games record for the event by clocking eight minutes 22.79 seconds.