Arpinder Singh has broken a new ground. He became the first Indian to have a podium finish for team Asia-Pacific at the IAAF Continental Cup. Arpinder won a bronze at Ostrava in Czech Republic to achieve this historic feat. In the recently concluded Asian Games, this 25-year old athlete won the gold medal by covering a distance of 16.77m.
Arpinder Singh’s Continental Cup medal came after a first jump of 16.59m in the qualifying series. In the semifinals, Singh edged past 2008 Olympic champion Nelson Evora of Portugal to enter the final. Reigning Olympic and world champion Christian Taylor of the United States took the gold with a jump of 17.59m, whereas World University Games silver medallist Hugues Fabrice Zango of Burkina Faso won the silver with a jump of 17.02m.
The Continental Cup which was earlier known as the IAAF World Cup till 2010, is the battle of top athletes from the four regions of Europe, Americas, Africa and Asia-Pacific. In this year’s event, Indian athletes Neeraj Chopra, Arpinder Singh, Jinson Johnson, Mohammad Anas, P U Chitra and Sudha Singh were selected to represent the Asia-Pacific team. But apart from Arpinder Singh, no other Indian managed to have a medal.
In Men’s 1500m race, Jinson Johnson finished sixth, clocking 3:41.72 seconds. He had won a gold in the Asian Games in this event with a time of 3:44.72. Johnson had also competed in the 800m race where he finished seventh. Mohmmad Anas finished at the fifth position but ran with a good timing of 45.72 seconds. Sudha Singh, the Asian Games silver-medallist, did not finish her women’s 3000m Steeplechase event. However, P U Chitra had finished a surprise fourth in Women’s 1500m race. She had won a bronze in this event in the Asian Games.
But the greatest disappointment was the performance of Neeraj Chopra. The man who has been consistently throwing above 85m, finished at sixth in the eight-man field with a best of 80.24m in Javelin Throw event. Chopra is the reigning Commonwealth Games and Asian Games champion.
However, Arpinder Singh has overcome all these failures and brightly raised the Indian flag high up. He ecstatically said, “Before coming here, we had training sessions for a day or two and yesterday. I was bit tired after competing regularly for the last six months, but competing against the world’s best and giving your best is a special feeling.”