India achieved a rare feat on Tuesday (28) when Manjit Singh scorched the track to win gold in men’s 800m at the Asian Games.
He upstaged pre-race favourite Jinson Johnson to clinch the gold with a timing of 1:46.15s. This was .20s faster than Johnson, who won the silver medal.
India’s last gold in men’s 800m was in the 1982 Asian Games and it was won by Charles Borromeo.
Manjit was not considered a strong contender to win a medal for India. He ran for India in the 2010 Commonwealth Games and finished last. His last national title came in 2013 and this helped him earn a stipend with ONGC.
However, in 2016 the organisation decided against extending his contract.
“On March 31, I was told my sports contract with ONGC would not be renewed,” Manjit told ESPN India. “They told me I wasn’t having any performance of value and that I was too old to improve. No one believed in me then. Very frankly I was depressed.”
It was during this time that Manjit approached Kumar to be his coach. Although success did not immediately follow, Manjit was ready to work hard to prove his worth.
“I was very hopeful. I had prepared accordingly. 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 the Army,” Manjit told PTI.
“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.