Asian Games 2018
24-Aug-2018 19:00

Johnson, Chitra look to be crowned King, Queen of middle distance in Asia

AFI Media
24 August 2018

New Delhi. Jinson Johnson is the current king of middle distance running in India. The 27-year-old has been making a habit of breaking national records at will. Currently he appears to be in the form of his life, having shattered two of the longest standing marks in the Indian record books. In April, Johnson had rewritten the 23-year-old record in the men’s 1500m race at the Commonwealth Games. Running his hear out, Johnson had clocked an impressive 3:37.86 seconds.

A few months later he would erase an even older record. Competing in the Inter State Athletics Championships in Guwahati, he eclipsed Sriram Singh’s 42-year-old 800m record, the oldest mark in the record books. Now, he is eyeing glory at the Asian Games, for if he manages to repeat his personal best of 1:45:65 seconds, he is almost certainly assured of a gold at the quadrennial event. “I had been hoping to break the 800m national record at the Asian Games. Now, my goal is to finish in the top three,” says Johnson.

Johnson has had success at the Asian level before, winning an 800m silver at the 2015 Asian Championships and a bronze in the same event in 2017. Gold will be a tougher ask. He is strongly placed to accomplish that task though. Amongst Asian athletes Johnson has recorded the fastest time in the 800m this year while he holds the second fastest time in the 1500m. Johnson’s recovery between races will be tested for he will be running a number of heats and finals between the 27th and the 30th of August. His tactics will also be tested. “Both 800 and 1,500 metres are two extremely tactical races and it is not all about the timing,” Jinson says.

Johnson might find a compatriot on the podium. Manjit Singh will also be representing India at the Games in the 800m and 1500m. With a season’s best time of 1:46.24 seconds, Singh is the fourth fastest Asian athlete this season in the 800m. He will find it difficult in the 1500m however.  

The women’s 1500m race could see an Indian champion too. While Pallakad based runner PU Chitra doesn’t hold the national record, she will look to emulate Sunita Rani who set the current Indian mark. Rani set the record at the 2002 Asian Games. The 23-year-old Chitra is in very good form and has already won titles at the Asian level. In 2017, she garnered gold both at the 22nd Asian Athletic Championship and the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in 1500m events. Currently her personal best of 4:11:55 seconds is the fastest by an Asian in 2018.