Parul Choudhary came up with her best in the last 50 metres, finding ounces of energy inside her body as she surged past Japan's Ririka Hironaka to win India's first gold medal in women's 5000m at the Asian Games on Tuesday.
Parul was sixth midway through the race and then pulled ahead getting past one competitor at a time and finally surged past the Japanese opponent in the last 10 metres to take the gold medal in a timing of 15:14.75.
Japan’s Ririka Hironaka finished second in 15:15.34 while Kazakhstan's Caroline Chepkoech Kipkirui took the bronze medal in 15:25.12, her season's best effort. India's Ankita finished fifth in 15:33.03, which is her personal best at this distance.
Even though it was not Parul Choudhary's best effort as she has a personal best of 15:10.69, she was still happy because this was her second race in two days. Parul had bagged a silver medal in the Women's 3000m race on Monday.
"I was a bit disappointed after missing gold in the 3000m steeplechase last evening. When I returned to the village, I could not sleep for long as I kept thinking about the steeplechase. Then I decided that I would give my all in the 5000m," said Parul.
Parul said that even though she had dropped to sixth place, she was confident of clawing her way back into medal contention.
"For a moment, I thought I may finish out of medal contention, but then I was confident that I had enough reserves. I was feeling in good rhythm and also the conditions were good, it was not very hot," said Parul Choudhary.
Parul also added she wanted to win the gold medal so that she could get a promotion from the Uttar Pradesh government.
Parul picked up pace in the last few laps and going into the final lap she was on the heels of Hironaka and then in the final few metres raced past the Japanese runner.
Asked whether it was her strategy to wait till the end before dashing to the finish line, Parul said there was no such strategy. "I just wanted to give it my all. It was on the track that I decided to wait till the end and then attack the Japanese runner," said Parul.
This is India's third gold medal in athletics in Hangzhou. India has also won 10 silver and eight bronze medals in athletics so far.
Parul thanked the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the Athletics Federation of India for putting her through a training camp in the USA. The training camp under Scott Simmons in the USA seems to have worked as Parul has improved a lot in the last couple of years.
She had set a new personal best in the World Championships a few months back and her coach said if she continued in this manner, she would have a good chance of making it to the Paris Olympics.