Adekoya bounces back from doping ban to win Asian Games hurdles gold in Hangzhou

Gold medalist Bahrain's Oluwakemi Mujidat Adekoya celebrates on the podium during the victory ceremony for the women's 400-meter hurdles final at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023. -AP

HANGZHOU (AFP): Bahrain's Kemi Adekoya, who was stripped of the 2018 title for doping, won Asian Games 400m hurdles gold on Tuesday while Olympic champion Liu Shiyang crashed in the javelin in a shock.

On a bumper night in Hangzhou, 10 titles were decided with six nations tasting victory, including Chinese Olympic silver medallist Zhu Yaming in the men's triple jump.

But veteran Svetlana Radzivil was dethroned in the women's high jump, with her Uzbek teammate Safina Sadullayeva denying her a fourth straight title.

Adekoya thrust herself back into the spotlight by crossing first in a Games-record 54.45sec to consolidate her strong showing at the Budapest World championships, where she finished fourth.

China's Mo Jiadie (55.01) took silver and India's Vithya Ramraj (55.68) bronze.

The 30-year-old Adekoya won at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon after switching allegiance from Nigeria, and again came first at Jakarta four years later.

But she was stripped of her 2018 hurdles and mixed 4x400m relay golds after testing positive for the prohibited steroid stanozolol. She was banned for four years.

A former world indoor champion, she claimed at the time her food was spiked.

"I just wanted to fight and get the gold medal, and fight for a new record," she said on Tuesday.

"Last Asian Games I broke it (the record), but what happened, happened," she added, alluding to her ban.

"I just focus on my mental health and keep it very strong. I believe in myself and work very hard."

Adekoya only recently returned to action and pipped fellow Nigerian-born Bahraini Salwa Eid Naser -- who is also on the comeback from a doping ban -- to claim the 400m title on Saturday.

Gold medalist India's Annu Rani celebrates after winning the women's javelin throw final at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023. - AP Gold medalist India's Annu Rani celebrates after winning the women's javelin throw final at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023. - AP

- Really special -

Qatar's defending champion and Asian record holder Abderrahman Alsaleck won the men's 400m hurdles in 48.04, ahead of teammate Bassem Hemeida and China's Xie Zhiyu.

"That makes it really special," he said of Hemeida taking silver. "Now we have two medals in 400m hurdles, that is really difficult at a world level."

China's javelin star Liu was the hot favourite to defend her title, particularly in the absence of Japanese world champion Haruka Kitaguchi.

Liu threw 66.34m to win Tokyo Olympic gold, but she could only manage 57.62m and retired before her final throw.

It allowed India's Annu Rani to take the title with a 62.92 effort, ahead of Sri Lanka's Dilhani Lekamge and China's Lyu Huihui. Liu came fifth.

In other action, Tokyo Olympic runner-up Zhu soared to 17.13m in claiming the triple jump honours, making up for narrowly missing the medals in Budapest.

Teammate Fang Yaoqing won silver and India's Praveen Chithravel bronze.

"To win Asian Games gold is a milestone for me," said Zhu. "I hope to work with my teammates and do greater things at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games."

Radzivil, at her fifth Asian Games, couldn't repeat her exploits at the last three Asiads in the high jump, settling for silver behind Sadullayeva, who cleared 1.86m.

Parul Chaudhary took home the women's 5,000m gold in 15:14.75, catching Japan's fast-fading Ririka Hironaka in the last 10 metres, adding to the silver she won in the 3,000m steeplechase on Monday behind world champion Winfred Yavi.

Saudi Arabia's Essa AliKzwani clinched the men's 800m title in 1:48.05 while China's Sun Qihao became decathlon champion.

China wrapped up the night on a high in front of their roaring home fans by winning both the men's and women's 4x100m relays. - AFP

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Hangzhou , Asian Games , Athletics


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