Buaban Pamang on her way to winning the gold medal in AGP
An awesome women's foursome and the invincible Buaban Pamang gave Thailand a hat-trick of winning in the women's 4x100m relay and the javelin throw in this year's Asian Grand Prix.
The third and final leg of the AGP series concluded in the western Indian city of Pune on Wednesday night. Home athletes underlined their domination in the one-day meet with a big scoop of 22 medals including seven gold and eight silver. A total of 22 gold were up for grabs.
China, which also finished second to India in the second leg in Guwahati on June 23, remained in second position with six gold. Kazakhstan came third overall with 11 medals including two gold. Thailand, third place overall in Guwahati, finished fourth with two gold, two silver and two bronze.
The promising Thai women's quartet led by former track queen Supawadee Khaopuek, who swept four gold medals and the best female athlete award in the 2001 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, topped the bill in the 4x100m relay as expected.
The Thai squad, which included Sangwan Jaksunil, Orranut Klomdee and Nongnuch Sanrat, blasted out of the blocks for what promised to be a golden run. They clocked the new record time of 44.00 seconds, eclipsing their previous standard of 44.10 established three years ago in Songkhla. China (44.07) and Singapore (47.53) finished second and third places respectively.
The victory was the Thai girls' three in a row. They already pulled off scintillating wins in the first leg on home soil on June 19 and the second leg in Guwahai.
Also undefeated in the first two legs, Buaban is anything but a one-hit wonder who has already made headlines and stolen the spotlight following the surprise win in the women's javelin in Doha. Buaban, the record-holder of 58.44m in the Bangkok leg, threw a below-par 54.89m this time, enough to emerge as a clear winner.
Sprint king Watchara Sondee had the tough test of maintaining his reputation against Wen Yongyi, who made a sweep of the three legs last year. The speedy Chinese crossed the finish line first in 10.38, while Sitthichai Suwornpratheep and Watchara made a two-three finish for Thailand with the times of 10.52 and 10.55 respectively.
In a thrilling home stretch, China beat Thailand in a photo finish in the men's 4x100m relay. Wen anchored a Chinese men's quartet to clinch the gold in 39.78 seconds, the similar endeavour made by the newly-formed Thai team of Thaweesak Poolthong, Watchara, Siriroj Darasuriyong and Sutthichai. India finished third in 40.53.
The victory was a successful comeback for the Chinese quartet, which did not finish the race in the second leg.
In the women's 100m, Sri Lankan Susanthika Jayasinghe, the 1997 world championship 200m silver medalist, stunned Uzbekistan's Guzel Khubbieva, the Asian Games champion and the winner in the first two legs, with the superb run in 11.35 seconds.
Thais Sangwan, Supawadee and Nongnuch failed to make their mark to come in disappointing fourth, fifth and sixth places in 11.92, 12.04 and 12.05 respectively.
Thailand claimed an additional bronze when powerful Chatchawal Polyiam, who picked up a silver in the second leg, hurled the iron with a third-place attempt of 17.46m in the men's shot put.
Meanwhile, in view of the prevailing violent conditions in Beirut, the 17th Asian Athletics Championships were cancelled and will now take place Amman ( Jordon) in the last week of July 2007.
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